On Monday, the State Board of Education effectively closed public schools for the academic year — and Nampa Christian Schools reopened.
Because Nampa Christian is private, it isn’t under the State Board’s umbrella. That’s why it could open while public schools cannot.
But other factors make Nampa Christian an outlier in Idaho education’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The school closed its hot lunch and bus service and curtailed school hours, moving its 730 students to a four-day calendar. “I just don’t think that’s replicable among many of our schools,” said Greg Wilson, Gov. Brad Little’s education adviser.
Nampa Christian said it designed its reopening to align with the first phase of Little’s Idaho Rebounds plan — which calls for continued social distancing practices, and curtailed public and private gatherings. And the private school consulted with its local health district. But like Wilson, State Board President Debbie Critchfield said a smaller private school could adapt more quickly to the changing situation. “The nature of their school was such that they could get that done, and good for them,” she said Wednesday.
This week’s reopening hit home for state Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, a Nampa Christian parent. After weeks of tutoring her children at home, and getting used to that new routine, her children returned to the classroom this week.
Den Hartog said she hopes the Nampa Christian reopening provides a model of local control. The unfolding pandemic could affect communities differently, so Den Hartog has concerns about a blanket statewide reopening strategy for the fall.
“I don’t, for a second wave, think that’s realistic,” she said.
Coming Thursday: A deeper look at the reopening issue, with an eye to the fall.
More reading: National coverage of the Nampa Christian reopening, from Education Week.