Video: Health officials speak on West Ada’s school reopening plan

Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo stopped short of criticizing West Ada school officials, who are considering holding in-person classes in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m concerned no matter which way we go,” Lachiondo said during a virtual town hall meeting Tuesday evening, co-hosted by Idaho News 6 and Idaho Education News.

As the town hall took place, West Ada trustees met to discuss their fall reopening plans. Trustees voted to delay the start of the school year from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 — a move praised by Lachiondo and Gina Pannell, a CDH official working with schools on their fall plans.

West Ada also left open the option of in-person classes during a period of substantial coronavirus spread — using a blended learning model that would allow students to attend school every other day. And that policy, also approved Tuesday evening, could put West Ada at odds with CDH and its board members, such as Lachiondo.

CDH recommends keeping schools closed during substantial coronavirus spread. On Monday, the health district said all of Ada County is experiencing substantial spread, affecting West Ada, Boise and Kuna schools.

The health district will update these designations every week, for this school year and possibly next school year as well, Pannell said.

Meanwhile, Pannell said schools are struggling with an evolving pandemic. As of Tuesday, Ada County has reported 8,280 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases. But earlier this summer, when area schools worked on their reopening plans, Ada County’s case numbers totaled in the hundreds.

“It was just a different environment than it is now, obviously,” she said.

More coverage from Tuesday: Boise schools will open the year online.

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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