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School districts struggle with decisions amid outbreak

AMMON, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)- School districts have been struggling with the decision to stay open or not. Even before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Idaho.

Bonneville District 93 held an emergency board meeting this evening.

The coronavirus is hard to escape right now. Some tough decisions need to be made when it comes to schools. With many large districts closing in other states, the pressure has been felt here.

Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said, "We see other states taking different courses of action. I don't know all the factors that play into their decisions but I do appreciate the close collaboration we have with our public health officials here. I've got a great relationship with the other superintendents here. When we meet together we talk about what makes the most sense for us right now in Idaho."

Governor Brad Little talked to district superintendents about school closures. He decided to leave the decision up to each individual district. Bonneville District 93 decided to stay open this week.

"Ultimately it does come down to our local decision our school board has the authority to close school if we feel that's the right course but I really feel like listening to those public health officials, that it's their responsibility to keep us all healthy and safe is the right course of action," Woolstenhulme says.

Some things will be different, large gatherings within schools will be cancelled. Social distancing will be enforced. But, ultimately not all close contact can be avoided.

Woolstenhulme understands the concerns and says, "The reality is when kids get on a school bus, when they get in the lunch line to go eat they can be in close proximity to each other. So within keeping schools open how do we help our teachers help our students practice as much social distancing as we really can." 

The district struggled with the decision to stay open. They understand parents concerns and individual situations. Due to that, the attendance policy was relaxed by the school board during an emergency meeting. However, they still feel schools are the best place for kids right now.

"Please know we care about your kids and we care about their health and their safety and if I didn't believe our schools were safe for kids our schools will be closed. I still believe schools are the right place for students to be," Woolstenhulme said is the thing he wants parents to know most.

District 93, along with Idaho Falls District 91, will be closed Thursday and Friday. They plan to use those days to prepare for what may come in the future. As the situation changes they will look at all the options they have, including online learning

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1 Comment

  1. How do they do social distancing on a school bus? Make some of the kids ride on the roof? Yes, being facetious; however, how.
    Multiple runs with half the kids on each load sounds logical; however, wouldn’t the bus have to be sanitized after each run?
    Close down the bus runs and require parents to bring the brats to school?
    All rhetorical. I have no idea and really don’t care.
    But good luck to the districts and the parents.

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