Until further notice, Teton School District 401 students will be back in school, in-person full time starting today, Wednesday, December 2, according to a unanimous vote by the TSD 401 Board of Trustees in a special meeting Tuesday night. Parents were alerted of this decision via text.
After hearing from administrators and James Corbett of Eastern Idaho Public Health, the board discussed the issue of consistency in learning models, projected losses in social and emotional health, and overall concerns about student and staff safety. The consensus was that the best way for students to learn is in the classroom, with all COVID-19 protocols in place.
Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme told the board that although the Reopening Plan approved by the plan was working, after several months of using it day-to-day, some changes might be necessary. The Alternate-Day model, which brings in half of each building’s students in only two days a week, has been particularly challenging. Teton County’s current risk-level, according to EIPH, is orange, and the TSD 401 Plan stipulated the hybrid module for this risk-level. Implementing the Alternate Day model through the end of the year would mean that students would receive in-person instruction only six days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
After nearly three hours of discussion, the board determined that in-person learning was the best option for the rest of December due to the district’s confidence in its own safety protocols and operational decision-making at a school level. Current safety protocols (mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent hand-sanitizing) will continue to be required of students and staff. TSD 401 will continue quarantining and contact tracing when positive cases occur, according to current CDC guidelines. Changes in community cases and hospital status will be considered as needed.
The board also voted to discontinue taking students temperatures, as recommended in November by the CDC.
Trustees meet again on Monday, December 14, and will discuss revising the COVID-19 plan.
The most important takeaway, board members said, is that any student or staff member who feels sick must stay home.
The special board meeting was broadcast on the district’s YouTube Channel.