Idaho coronavirus update, 4.3.20: State Board not discussing holding students back due to extended closures

State Board of Education officials have not discussed holding students back and making them repeat grades due to extended coronavirus-related school closures.

The board could extend the statewide closure, but families should not worry about students being held back.

Debbie Critchfield

“We’ve never talked about that,” State Board President Debbie Critchfield said Friday afternoon. “That has never entered any conversations at our level.”

Last month, the State Board issued a statewide directive closing schools until April 20. Although physical school buildings are closed, Critchfield pointed out that education is continuing, via distance learning, online courses and other means.

Several Idaho Education News readers have written in asking us if students will be held back or need to repeat the term because of the coronavirus pandemic and school closures.

When asked if parents should worry about that, Critchfield said no. The State Board is issuing waivers for certain graduation requirements, instructional hour requirements and testing, but educators are doing their best to ensure school is still taking place.

“There is still an expectation to continue to deliver learning in some form,” Critchfield said.

State Board calls special virtual meeting

The State Board will consider extending the statewide school closure during a special virtual meeting Monday. Since the State Board’s initial decision, the White House has extended its social-distance guidelines through the end of April, and Gov. Brad Little has issued a three-week stay-at-home directive through April 15.

State Board members discussed the extended White House guidelines briefly earlier this week. But members said they wanted to talk with public health experts, the state epidemiologist, Little’s coronavirus response team and other policymakers before making a decision.

During Monday’s meeting, the State Board will also consider waiving semester credit-hour requirements and request Little consider waiving or suspending certain requirements to provide school districts added flexibility during the public health emergency, spokesman Mike Keckler said.

Monday’s meeting will begin at 3 p.m. and will be streamed live to the public via the State Board’s Facebook page. Idaho Education News will have full coverage of the meeting Monday.

Confirmed cases update

At its 5 p.m. update Friday, the state coronavirus website and Idaho’s public health districts were reporting  1,016 confirmed cases in Idaho and 10 deaths. That’s an increase of 119 cases, or 13 percent, from the 897 cases identified Thursday. That’s also an increase of one new death confirmed Friday.

Idaho is reporting confirmed cases in 31 of the state’s 44 counties. Counties with the most cases include Blaine (405), Ada (351), Canyon (89), Kootenai (37) and Twin Falls (33).

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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