The Caldwell School District will open its doors for students starting Monday, with a mix of face-to-face and online learning.
The decision to reopen, made Monday in a board of trustees meeting, follows a month of fully online school for Caldwell students due to coronavirus concerns.
Southwest District Health moved Canyon County from its “red” category for high community spread into an “orange” category for medium community spread earlier this month.
SWDH’s “orange” category lines up with the requirements of the district’s “yellow” reopening procedures, said Dr. Shalene French, superintendent of Caldwell School District. The district had initially planned to wait to until Oct. 5 to reopen for face-to-face instruction.
After a month of online school, some on the Caldwell Board of Trustees were anxious to get students in the classroom. Trustee Andrew Butler suggested moving students into the district’s “green” category, which outlines almost a “business as usual” approach.
French advised against opening fully in one week because nutrition and transportation have not been set up yet and she is concerned with the small substitute teacher pool the district has seen.
“It may not be the health district or community spread that makes us close, it may be that we don’t have enough substitutes or teachers in the classroom and we may have to close a school and we do not want to do that at all ever,” French said.
A handful of elementary school principals were on the board’s Zoom meeting on Monday and had concerns about moving into a “green” phase right away. They said eventually they’d like to return to “green,” but not immediately.
French also told trustees that the district has a handful of cases of COVID-19. According to a document shared with trustees and the public, “Evidence for school reopening” from SWDH, the district has one case of the virus or suspected case among staff and three cases or suspected cases among its students.
French said she wants to avoid any “flare ups” of the virus, citing Bonneville High School that closed its doors because of a positive case in a student in attendance.
Trustee Chair Marisela Pesina echoed French.
“Let’s see what the next few weeks have in store for us because we certainly don’t want to be that district that has a flare up and then we have got to close back into remote learning because we jumped the gun,” Pesina said.
The district’s hybrid model plans for half of all elementary students to attend school in the morning and half in the afternoon. Under the plan high school students would be on a hybrid A/B schedule.