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Trustees adopt reopening plan; defer mask decision until conditions may warrant them;

After a lengthy discussion with staff, medical officials, parents and students, along with the review of dozens of written comments from the community,  the Emmett Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Emmett School District’s Reopening Plan for the 2020-2021 school year. 

View the newly adopted plan

Vea el plan en español aquí La junta de directivos del Distrito de Emmett adoptan el plan de reapertura; deciden esperar para hacer la decisión del uso obligatorio de máscara hasta que las condiciones lo justifiquen

Please note: The plan’s language is subject to change if new guidance information is recommended and pandemic circumstances change. Building principals are developing specifics for their schools and are expected to have them ready by August 7. 

Emmett Remote Academy: The plan includes the creation of a new online K-12 program called Emmett Remote Academy (ERA). ERA, an open enrollment online school, provides an option for parents who aren’t comfortable sending their students to a classroom environment. The program, which is intended to continue even after the COVID crisis ends, would provide successful students a diploma at the end of their senior year and would allow students in middle and high school grade levels the chance to participate in extracurricular activities. 

How do I enroll my child in ERA? Complete this open enrollment form for the district and indicate “ERA” as your school of choice. Please email your completed form to amattingly@isd221.net by August 7. 

The plan is based on four categories, from green to red, with parameters to provide a framework amid the COVID-19 pandemic that provides face-to-face education for as long as it is feasible to do so safely. However, recognizing that some families may feel uncomfortable with sending their children to the classroom at this time, a new online school, Emmett Remote Academy, will operate to provide another district option. 

If COVID-19 conditions reach the yellow stage, where more precautions must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus, masks will be expected, but not required, trustees determined, unless they meet again to review timely information.

The trustees indicated that making a decision, at this point, to require masks would upset patrons, and equally upset others if no masks are required. It’s a no-win situation, they said during the board meeting streamed live on YouTube. 

It’s not known at this point which category -- green, yellow, orange or red -- the school district will open under on August 26. As it stands now, Idaho’s numbers show Gem County in the red stage with a total of 134 positive or probable cases and zero deaths, with 69 of those positive cases occurring since July 10. But the state’s stage does not necessarily dictate what the School District will do.

Some of the testimony trustees heard included:  

  • An 11-year-old student and a high school senior who both said they wanted to go back to the classroom.
  • Emmett High School Football Coach Rich Hargitt presented a compelling case for keeping students at school, indicating that some students rely on the school system to provide meals and stability because they don’t have that at home. 
  • A retired teacher suggested a 40-day plan where everyone would wear masks with hopes to contain the virus before it got worse.
  • Another teacher encouraged masks with hopes that the requirement could prevent even one death to a student, teacher or grandma.
  • Valor Health officials who also advocated for the use of masks.
  • Gem County Emergency Manager Laurie Boston who recommended masks as a measure to curb the spread of the virus.

Superintendent Craig Woods told the trustees that plans to hold weekly meetings with health officials to hear their concerns and identify information that would help determine what category would be best for the School District. That report will be shared with the community, Woods added. 

  • This tiered plan outlines steps, based on criteria, before students and employees return to school buildings. It also serves as a guide throughout the year as the nation, Idaho and Gem county navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19.
  • The plan, based on guidelines outlined by Idaho Board of Education, Southwest District Health Department and CDC recommendations for schools.  It allows the Emmett School District to prioritize health and safety of students and staff and the delivery of effective instructions for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan also links to the Southern Idaho Conference Guidelines for Covid-19 developed by athletic directors and coaches.
  • The plan makes it clear that if conditions worsen, or an outbreak is identified at one school in the district, it would not be necessary to move all schools to Category Red, which calls for distance learning.