Revised criteria not changing local schools’ plans

by Josh McDonald
Staff Reporter | May 8, 2020 12:17 PM

Despite revised re-entry criteria from the Idaho State Board of Education, none of Shoshone County’s three school districts have any plans to reopen their building this school year.

During their special meeting on Monday, the SBOE approved the revision of their previously approved re-entry criteria to align with Gov. Brad Little’s four-stage Idaho Rebounds plan that launched last Friday and will (hopefully) culminate in June.

The re-entry criteria really boils down to these three aspects.

• No statewide stay-home orders are in place, and schools have a physical distancing plan in place that the local health district has approved.

• The statewide reopening criteria have been met as defined at School districts and charter schools located in communities that have experienced no community spread may consider returning to in-person instruction within the physical distancing guidelines and approval by the local public health district.

• Approval by the local public health district, after review of school district and charter school cleaning, disinfection and physical distancing protocols.

These rules make a fairly clear path for the smallest of schools to potentially resume class, but limit any school who would have more than 10 people in a classroom (nine students and a teacher), but could pave the way for schools to begin adding small group instruction to their future learning plans.

All three local superintendents were brief, concerning the re-entry criteria, but Dr. Nancy Larsen with the Kellogg School District believes the new criteria is more for the future than the current school year.

“I believe that the intent of the board was focusing on possible summer school and school in the fall,” Dr. Larsen said. “With the criteria they had, it would have prevented those possibilities.”

SBOE President Debbie Critchfield hopes that the revised criteria can allow schools to begin focusing on the 2020/21 school year while everyone follows along with the governor’s plan.

“With the update that Gov. Little announced last week, we needed to make sure the board’s re-entry criteria for public schools is aligned with the Idaho Rebounds plan,” Critchfield said. “Our hope is that we can now focus our energies on what re-opening looks like in the fall and I would go so far as to say that is what our local school districts should be thinking about as well.”