The 2020-21 school year will be unique for schools across the nation due to COVID-19. On July 9, the Governor’s Office, State Board of Education and State Department of Education released the Idaho Back to School Framework. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Idaho’s seven local public health districts helped create and contribute to the Idaho Back to School Framework.
BOISE SCHOOL DISTRICT
Dan Hollar, spokesperson for the Boise School District, said each school in the district has developed a building implantation plan that is in alignment with the district. Boise School District Schools sent their implantation plan to the community on July 6 and had planned to edit and adjust as needed.
Hollar said the district will be prepared to support, care for, and most importantly, teach their students whether students are unable to attend their traditional on-campus school or children begin to experience "COVID-19 closures" similar to what happened in the spring.
“Every student deserves access to a great education, delivered by a highly-qualified Boise School District teacher, regardless of whether the teaching and learning occur in a traditional classroom or online,” Hollar said. “To that end, we are building an online program to be launched this Fall that not only meets our standards but our parents’ and students’ expectations, as well.”
Hollar highlighted that masks will be expected when students are unable to social distance and will be provided if requested. Handwashing stations will be available throughout schools in the district and hand sanitizer will be available for all staff, families and students. Meetings with parents and the community will be virtual when possible and visitors will be required to make an appointment to enter school buildings, except under emergency circumstances.
With a new expectation in safety and education, the Boise School District will stand by their core beliefs and interests.
“Our neighborhood public schools play a critical role in the vibrancy, unity and well-being of our community,” Hollar said. “While pivoting to respond to an unpredictable future, we must remain firmly grounded in our core beliefs and interests.”
BISHOP KELLY HIGH SCHOOL
Idaho’s only Catholic High School, Bishop Kelly, will return to school on August 1 for the 2020-21 school year. The Catholic school’s Board of Governance approved their 2020-21 Instructional Plan on June 22 after being shared at the Virtual Town Hall meeting on June 17. The online meeting was hosted by the President of Bishop Kelly High School, Rich Raimondi, and Principal Mike Caldwell. The Plan implements four main goals that the school took from 602 parent surveys:
Make the learning experience exceptional for all Bishop Kelly students, faculty and staff.
Build a plan that provides flexibility, adaptability and options for their students, faculty/staff and school.
Keep Bishop Kelly students, faculty/staff and community safe and healthy.
Engage their parents and community as partners to the overall learning experience of Bishop Kelly students.
Bishop Kelly is planning to have all students and staff on campus daily by establishing appropriate and safe social distancing protocols in classrooms, hallways and gathering spaces. They will rearrange areas on campus to maximize physical space.
During the parent virtual town hall meeting, 75% of parents asked the school to provide hand washing stations and sanitizing throughout the school. Thirty-nine percent of parents voted that the school did not need any additional safety measures as long as they followed the already placed state and federal guidelines. Many parents urged that face-to-face learning was the best option for their children.
“The highest number of comments were basically ‘you need to open up,” Raimondi, said during the virtual meeting.
WEST ADA SCHOOL DISTRICT
The West Ada School District also used parent surveys to provide important input for the planning of the upcoming school year. The district claimed the most common theme and feedback from the parents was that their children need to continue to learn in school at high levels for the 2020-21 school year.
The district has a pandemic plan that has been approved by Central District Health. West Ada will be opening on August 27 and giving their students the option to attend school as normal with extra safety measures in place or attend online classes through their Virtual School House. Each student will go through an assessment to identify learning gaps that may need to be addressed.
West Ada School District purchased technology ensuring every student will be one-to-one with a device. K-2 students will be issued a tablet or laptop while students 3-12 will be issued laptops. The district will be addressing concerns regarding lack of internet access and will be coordinating with internet providers for a lower-cost connection.
After acknowledging that things can change very quickly, West Ada has created three scenarios to always be prepared. “Green,” being normal school operations, includes no community transmission and is the first scenario. Schools will run as normal with extra safety precautions and training on how to be prepared for the district's “Yellow” and “Red” plans. “Yellow,” is an alternate day schedule, including minimal to moderate community transmission. This plan was created to avoid complete school closure and will have half of the students attending classes every other day. The “Yellow” scenario will be determined by guidance from Central District Health and other Idaho governmental authorities. The last plan is the “Red” scenario, meaning West Ada is experiencing substantial community transmission, will move to a completely online system where school buildings will be closed.