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Idaho Gov: It’s up to individual school districts to close school

Governor Brad Little
Governor Brad Little

Update: School District

Idaho's Governor said it will be up to the individual school districts to decide if they will cancel school as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The governor made the announcement on Sunday afternoon following a meeting with superintendents and other state education officials.

Sunday morning, the teacher's union, Idaho Education Association (IEA), asked for all schools in Idaho to be canceled for three weeks .

A spokesperson at the governor's office said they are urging the school districts to coordinate with their local health district and make a plan.

As of Sunday afternoon, no school districts in eastern Idaho have closed school.

During a Facebook Live Sunday afternoon, Bonneville School District 93 superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said the state has given them some clear guidelines. He said, "Before schools should consider canceling classes is to look at the best science that is available and that science is coming from the Center for Disease Control."

Woolstenhulme said the first recommendation to close a school is when a student is tested positive of the virus for a day or two, so it could be clean and sanitized. The second recommendation was if there is a community spread where there is a number of cases in the vicinity of the school for one to two weeks. If the virus becomes an epidemic in our area it may be possible to close school for 8 to 20 weeks.

The board of trustees at District 93 has scheduled an emergency board meeting today at 5:30p and will be streamed on their Facebook page.

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 sent a letter to parents and staff Sunday afternoon saying they will be holding a special board of trustees meeting on Monday, March 16 at 3 p.m.

The letter said, "We continue to agonize over the decision whether to close schools prior to spring break. Our entire administrative team was in constant communication over the weekend and called a special meeting on Sunday to address our next steps. We have spoken with various agencies at every level of government and participated in a conference call held today for all Idaho education stakeholders with Governor Little and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. During that call, Governor Little urged Idaho school districts to remain open. Guidance for this recommendation is provided by the CDC: “Considerations for School Closures” (https://www.sd25.us/userfiles/2295/my%20files/considerations-for-school-closure.pdf?id=6378)."

Idaho public health officials announced the state's first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease called by the novel coronavirus, on Friday. By Saturday evening the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare had confirmed that four more people had tested positive for the illness.

They included two in Ada County, one in Blaine County, one in eastern Idaho's Teton County and one in the south-central Idaho public health district. Health officials did not say where in the district the patient lives, but it includes Twin Falls, Cassia, Jerome, Minidoka, Gooding, Lincoln, Camas and Blaine counties.

Coronavirus Coverage / Education / Health / Idaho / Local News

Curtis Jackson

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