GRANGEVILLE – “I am concerned about the load on our teachers,” said Mountain View School District 244 trustee Pam Reidlen, of Kooskia, at the July 20 meeting in Grangeville.
“They may have to continue preparing for at-school and at-home education. Their duties have been and may continue to be doubled and even tripled.” Reidlen and the rest of the board viewed a draft school reopening plan prepared by new superintendent, Todd Fiske, discussing the various scenarios for the 2020-21 school year.
Fiske discussed a variety of circumstances for reopening, including keeping students in the same pod or family group to limit exposure, to alternate schedules with half the population attending Monday and Wednesday and the other half attending Tuesday and Thursday (siblings attend same days), continued delivery of on-line and home learning material packets, half or shortened days and a potential for mask wearing/ face coverings.
“If we were to do an alternate schedule, then Fridays would need to be a prep day – this is not an easy load for teachers,” Fiske agreed with Reidlen. “I think we will have to end up with some sort of hybrid situation,” as opposed to a traditional opening and school year, to include at school and on-line learning. “Right now, we’re planning a ‘green light,’” he said. “The go-ahead to open with correct hygiene, social distancing and sanitization.” Fiske explained this to the board at the July 20 meeting.
Fiske has devised a plan that includes provisions for not only that green light opening, but also a yellow light (proceed with caution and in smaller groups), and red (closing schools). “This depends so much on what the health department and the governor say,” in relation to what COVID-19 looks like in the county and state at the time, he said, explaining the information is fluid and the plan has to be “extremely flexible.”
Trustee Brad Lutz, of Grangeville, said he appreciates there is no right way to figure out the whole situation. “I understand the statewide infection rate is 1 percent, and we [Idaho County] are at one-tenth of that 1 percent,” he stated. “So, what threshold would it take to push us into that red [school closed] zone?” he questioned. “I cannot say exactly … we have to keep in contact with the proper entities, but what will we do if, say, one student at Clearwater Valley tests positive? Do we close just that school or the whole district? What would trigger us to shut down? That’s something we need to brainstorm on,” Fiske said.
Fiske was to meet with administrators and other district leaders, prior to making school reopening plans readily available to patrons. Extracurricular activities will have to be monitored, he added. Reidlen also asked about ADA funding, wondering what the state would allow.
Fiske said the state announced they would accept average daily attendance (ADA) numbers for their funding formula, even if students were being educated on-line or at home during the pandemic. “We have a plan, and we’re continuing toward the best interests of everyone,” he said. “Our duty is to error on the side of safety for our whole team – including our kids.”