This story was written special for Idaho Education News and the Idaho Press.
The Caldwell School District is gradually allowing students with in-person needs back into classrooms even though it is not set to reopen for any regular in-person instruction until at least Oct. 5.
Southwest District Health moved Canyon County from the “red” Category 3 for coronavirus transmission to the “yellow” Category 2, indicating to school districts that it is safe to open with hybrid in-person and remote learning.
The Caldwell School District board of trustees made the decision in August, while Canyon County was in the “red” Category 3 for coronavirus, to postpone opening in a hybrid model until October. In recent weeks the school board has received many letters and comments on Facebook from parents and community members, wondering why they had not opened school yet. In its board meeting Monday, the board received six emailed letters asking them to open school in either a hybrid model or in a full-time, in-person model.
Caldwell Trustee Travis Manning, on Monday, wanted to assure Caldwell parents that students were indeed coming back, despite the district being in a red alert level.
Since opening remotely for the 2020-2021 school year on August 27, the district has allowed small groups of special education students to attend school based on their individualized education plans.
English Language students have been attending school on an individual basis, based on their needs. Caldwell High School began providing EL services its first week of school. According to the district’s EL remote learning plan, in-person services for EL students are offered between one and four days per week and no more than three hours per day.
In its Monday meeting, the board also approved in-person attendance for Career Technical Education students.
This week all of Caldwell’s elementary students have been in school in small groups to take state reading assessments, said district spokesperson Allison Westfall in an email.
Next week the district plans to welcome small groups of middle school students to school to take the same assessment.
Westfall said the district is preparing for the Oct. 5 hybrid launch date, “if conditions permit, and it is looking good.”
The board will decide whether or not to move into its hybrid model in a meeting Monday. The district’s hybrid model plans for elementary students to half attend school in the morning and half in the afternoon. Under the plan high school students would be on a hybrid A/B schedule.