POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) - During Tuesday evening's special meeting, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 Board of Trustees took action to resume a 5-day, in-person learning schedule for all grades K-12, beginning March 1, 2021, which marks the first day of the school year’s final trimester.
PCSD 25 elementary schools (K-5) will continue in the modified traditional instructional model. In this model, elementary learners are grouped in cohorts and receive face-to-face instruction five days per week. In addition, all secondary schools (6-12) will transition to the modified traditional instructional model. In this model, secondary learners will attend school in-person five days per week. Learn more about the modified traditional instructional models in the PCSD 25’s Roadmap to the 2020-2021 School Year.
To support this transition, the district’s preventative strategies, including the requirement of face coverings for all learners, staff and visitors, will remain in effect. By March 1, more than half of PCSD 25’s 1,700 staff members will have received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, provided through district-sponsored vaccination clinics. The district will continue to publish a weekly case status report for active/probable COVID-19 cases.
“For the first time since the pandemic began, the current conditions in our community favor a return to five-day, face-to-face, in-person learning schedule for every learner attending PCSD 25 schools," Superintendent, Dr. Douglas Howell said. "This is a critical step for our staff, our learners and their families, and it is one that we do not take lightly. The Board has been tasked to balance the delivery of a rigorous K-12 curriculum while safeguarding the health and well-being of learners and staff members. The Board continues to thoughtfully consider all pertinent data to encompass the many complexities involved in making these tough, and not always popular, decisions.”
In order to allow physical distancing during the pandemic, the Board voted at the start of the school year to have secondary students learn in a hybrid model. This schedule split students time in the classroom to two days a week and two days learning online.
While in-person attendance was limited, many community members wrote in to the Board to comment on how they hope the Board will proceed. More than 180 people, including students, faculty and parents, wrote to the Board.
Of those, about 97 are in favor of returning to full‐time, face to face instruction and about 73 are in favor of maintaining the current instructional model.
Southeastern Idaho Public Health also gave a statement supporting the options the Board considered Tuesday night, while also providing some guidance.
"In order for schools to operate safely, a number of factors should be considered. The consistent use of cloth face coverings, the ability to physically distance, and access to hand-washing are all important," the statement read.
However, with multiple variant strains of Covid-19 beginning to circulate the U.S., the potential impact that could have on schools and communities is unknown.
The Board considered having students go to school for 4 days a week with one day of remote learning, which other school districts in the area are doing.