McCall-Donnelly: Idaho’s last hybrid school district

Tucked away under Payette Lake lies one of Idaho’s only remaining school districts where students have not yet returned to full in-person learning this spring.

On April 5, Kuna School District’s secondary students will return to classes, meaning almost all students in the state will be back to in-person instruction. The only remaining school districts in Idaho that are not offering full in-person instruction are McCall-Donnelly and Nampa’s Pathways in Education.

A map showing all operational models for Idaho schools is available here.

During the March 16 meeting, McCall-Donnelly trustees voted to maintain the current hybrid schedule through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Before that meeting, the district issued a survey to patrons regarding their preferred educational model, with mixed results among 816 responses:

  • McCall-Donnelly High: 49.8 percent remain in hybrid, 46.8 percent move to in-person
  • Payette Lakes Middle: 40.6 percent remain in hybrid, 53.7 percent move to in-person
  • Donnelly Elementary: 35.5 percent remain in hybrid, 59.8 percent move to in-person
  • Barbara Morgan Elementary: 42.9 percent remain in hybrid, 49.5 percent move to in-person

“While the hybrid model is difficult for many students and families, respondents identified the importance of maintaining the current model through the end of the year,” Superintendent Jim Foudy said in his letter to district patrons.

Foudy joked that the decision to stay in hybrid would have been a lot easier for the board if the responses to the survey were as one-sided as the district’s recent bond, which passed with a staggering 89 percent.

The top concern among patrons from all four McCall-Donnelly schools was students needing more time in the classroom. Disrupting the current schedule was among the top four concerns for all patrons, including the No. 2 concern among high school parents (42.9 percent).

McCall-Donnelly students are split into two cohorts, with half of the students attending school on Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday while the other half attend school on Tuesday, Thursday and every other Friday.

There are options for students who require more support or additional time in the classroom to attend class more than three days per week, Foudy said.

The decision to remain in hybrid for the remainder of the year is similar to past decision-making by the McCall-Donnelly board during the pandemic. In the fall, sports teams at the high school were not able to travel to Payette County or Washington County, which were hotspots for COVID-19 infections at the time.

The Vandal football team opened the season at Marsh Valley on Aug. 28 and then had weeks off before hosting Grangeville on Sept. 18. McCall-Donnelly High was moved up to the 3A classification in the 2020-2021 school year, joining District III (Snake River Valley Conference) which is made up of Fruitland, Homedale, Parma, Payette and Weiser. The Vandals didn’t play a game in Payette County in the 2020 football season and didn’t end up playing Fruitland at all.

The soccer teams and volleyball teams at McCall-Donnelly also didn’t travel to Payette County until mid-September, a month into the fall season.

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