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Education leaders call for public cooperation

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BOISE, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-Idaho's public education leaders are joining other state agencies to encourage public cooperation in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

An open letter to the public Friday is signed by Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield, State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra, Idaho Public Charter School Commission Chairman Alan Reed, Idaho Association of School Administrators Executive Director Alan Grover, and Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria.

"We urge and plead with communities large and small across Idaho to do their part to help our students be able to stay in school. The pandemic is not partisan. Enabling our students to go to school, with all the developmental and extracurricular opportunities it has to offer, is not partisan either. It is a moral and economic imperative," said the statement.

The policy makers said they are concerned about learning loss due to the disruptive environment COVID-19 has created. They say it is their priority to provide students an opportunity to be in school as much as is safely possible.

But, the group said it cannot fill that responsibility unless they can keep students and educators safe.

In a recent visit to Idaho, US Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said schools are not ground-zero for virus transmission, but gatherings where people are not wearing masks or maintaining adequate physical distancing are super-spreaders.

The administrators recognize that local school officials are having to make tough decisions without the space to explore ideas or solutions without immediate, visceral, public scrutiny.

The letter advises, "The quickest and most effective way to mitigate this virulent spread is simply to follow the science-based public health protocols of washing hands, maintaining six feet apart and wearing a face mask. Adult behaviors do impact our ability to operate schools."

You can read the full letter here.

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