Boise trustees vote to return to classrooms full time

After spring break, classrooms in Boise School District will be full once again, as district trustees unanimously voted to select one of the district’s options for returning to in-person education.

The option that was selected will return elementary and special education students (of all grades) to in-person classes on March 9. On March 29, the Tuesday after spring break, students in all grades will be back for classes five days per week.

Trustee Beth Oppenheimer motioned to accept the reopening option. The vote was unanimous.

Off of the table was preschool students, as Deputy Superintendent Lisa Roberts said all pre-K students will be returning to classes every day starting on Feb. 23 because of the small class sizes.

The March 9 date allows the district time to give all staff members the option to be immunized for COVID-19 and also lines up with the kindergarten registration deadline (March 8, allowing schools to be fully set up and prepared). Starting middle and high school students on March 29 also lines up with the start of the fourth quarter.

Boise trustees had previously met on Feb. 8 to discuss reopening. During that meeting, Ada County was still in the highest risk category for COVID-19 spread. Since then, Central District Health has moved Ada County to the “yellow” category.

At the end of the meeting, trustee Dennis Doan announced that he will be submitting his letter of resignation to the board, to be accepted at the March 8 board meeting. Doan, who is the former Boise City Fire Chief, said he has taken a fire chief position in Washington. Doan has been with the Boise School District Board since 2018.

On Feb. 8, Oppenheimer motioned that the district bring pre-K through second-grade students back in two weeks. Other board members decided not to move forward with the motion as they wanted more time to evaluate classrooms and hear from parents. A survey was sent out to parents, teachers and students with just over 20,000 responses (12,642 parents/guardians, 2,710 staff, 5,082 students).

The survey showed that most parents support returning all students to class full-time, but the same can’t be said with school staff and the students themselves. Parents of pre-K through sixth-graders voted in favor of full in-person learning 55 percent to 19.9 percent. Middle and high school parents voted in support of full in-person 48.2 percent to 24.6 percent.

Elementary staff voted in favor of returning to classes 39.7 percent to 32.5 percent. Secondary staff members voted against returning to full in-person classes 33.5 percent to 35.8 percent. Nearly 47 percent of staff members who voted said their biggest concern of returning to classes full-time is the number of people occupying the buildings during the day.

Secondary students who took the survey voted in favor of return to classes 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.

EdNews spent the last two weeks following school board meetings around Idaho as many of the state’s largest districts plan to return to classes full time. Read more about them HERE.

About Nik Streng

Nik Streng graduated with his bachelors degree in creative writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., in 2013 and graduated with his master’s in journalism from the University of Oregon. 

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