WSD awaiting reopening plan approval

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | July 31, 2020 12:04 PM

WALLACE — The Wallace School District has completed and submitted its reopening plans for the 2020/21 school year.

Unlike other districts that waited until later in the season to set their plans, the WSD began working on its almost as soon as the last school year officially ended.

Using a combination of results from multiple meetings and feedback/questionnaire answers from students, parents and district staff, school officials have put together a comprehensive plan that covers all aspects of the upcoming school year.

The plan is broken up by school facility and has contingencies for each of the three categories the schools will potentially operate under.

Those categories are as follows and apply to the community the school district exists in:

• Category 1 includes no or limited community transmission. Schools in that category should open buildings for face-to-face classes with physical distancing and sanitation procedures, the state plan recommends.

• Category 2 includes minimal to moderate community transmission. Schools in that category should consider a range of options from full opening to limited or staggered use of school buildings.

• Category 3 includes large-scale community transmission that impacts health care staffing or sees multiple cases in schools, mass gatherings or health care facilities. Those schools should consider short- or long-term closures.

The plan outlines broad sections such as personal protective equipment (PPE), classroom attendance, athletics and contingencies for contamination among many other niche topics.

For WSD, any time that the community is at Category 3, they will go into a soft closure.

WSD is encouraging students and staff to wear facial coverings or masks, and will adopt a cohort-grouping strategy that keeps kids together for class and activities as much as possible.

As far as attendance goes, students in the WSD will go to school as normal in Category 1, but will be split into A and B groups, and alternate days if the school is considered in Category 2.

In the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19, WSD will contact the Panhandle Health District and then begin the process of contract tracing.

The plan also shows that the school will be following the 52-page guidelines laid out by the Idaho High School Activities Association regarding how it will conduct its fall athletics.

WSD Superintendent Todd Howard was pleased with how the plan came together and was also proud of the efforts that went into creating it in a timely manner.

“Without the focus and input from so many different people in the community and the Wallace School District, we would not have been able to put together a plan that addresses so many different aspects of our education system,” Howard said. “The willingness to participate in the process says a lot about their dedication to the Wallace School District.”

The plan now has to be approved by both the Wallace School Board, as well as the Panhandle Health District.

The News–Press will publish the full reopening plan if and when it is approved.