Weiser schools to remain closed

Steve Lyon

The Weiser School District Board of Trustees decided on Monday night to continue with remote learning for the rest of the school year due to the many uncertainties associated with the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
 It was a tough decision that followed much discussion, but trustees said they believe it was the best alternative based on a number of factors.
 School board members said they felt extending the closure through the last five weeks of the school year would provide a level of certainty for staff, students and parents for planning purposes.
 There is also a concern that the state and local area could continue to see cases of COVID-19 in the coming weeks, making it difficult for students to return to schools in the time remaining in the school year.
 Trustee Dr. Mark Pritchard said the board also discussed the possibility that not all students would return to schools if they were reopened.
 Some parents have told district officials that they would not send their children back to the classrooms out of a concern over the coronavirus.
 School board members also did not want to take a chance that they could reopen schools in the district and  have a potential outbreak of the coronavirus among students.
 He said the board’s decision to keep the closure in place for the rest of the school year was proactive and trustees have been proactive in dealing with the coronavirus crisis since it emerged last month.
 “With all of the uncertainties, we felt like that was probably the best thing to do at this time,” he said. “All of those things came into consideration.”
  At a meeting on April 6 to discuss the “soft closure” in place statewide, the Idaho State Board of Education left open the option of schools possibly re-opening if they met certain criteria.
 The SBOE, citing the need to offer school districts flexibility, was supposed to come up with the criteria on Monday of this week but pushed that off until Thursday.
 SBOE member suggested last week that if schools reopened, districts should have a plan to continue to provide remote education for students who did not return and provide instruction in the classroom for students that did come back. The task seemed unreasonable, local trustees said.
 Pritchard said board members also are waiting to see what the governor says on Wednesday about the statewide stay-home order that is in effect until April 15. It is not known yet if it will be extended or something else put in place.
 Weiser students did not return to schools at the conclusion of spring break. Starting April 1, teachers began delivering coursework online after the State Board of Education ordered a “soft closure” of all schools statewide.

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