The Middleton School District’s board of trustees will continue with its move into full-time, in-person learning for high schools next month, despite concerns from the teachers union about reopening while Idaho has moved back into Stage 3 of its coronavirus response plan.
The board held a special meeting Monday to hear the union’s concerns with the reopening.
The Middleton Education Association filed a grievance last week against the school board, claiming association members were excluded from discussions about the reopening plan. In its response, the board agreed to hold the meeting Monday.
MEA president Dave Stacy asked board members questions on behalf of association members. His questions covered a variety of topics, such as whether the board had thought about how reopening high school in November would force students to shift their schedules just weeks before they take their final exams. The board discussed it and thought opening up would be beneficial for students struggling through online classes.
Stacy also expressed confusion among association members about a mask mandate.
The language the board approved is, “Face coverings will be required for students and staff anytime a group cannot be socially distanced as a whole.”
Clarifying his position on masks, trustee Jake Dempsey said, “The idea is that masks are expected.” Parents should not send their students to school without a mask, with a mask in their pocket, or hanging off their face, Dempsey said.
As one of his last questions, Stacy asked if now was the right time for Middleton to reopen, following Gov. Brad Little’s order to move Idaho back a stage in its own reopening plan.
“This is not a smooth, right or wrong answer — we have to be willing to go backwards,” board chairman Kirk Adams said. “Are there risks? Absolutely, but we are looking at our numbers, at how this affects kids … we are not going to be open and stay open, we are going to monitor what makes sense.”
As of Monday night, the board plans to reopen sixth- through eighth-grade classrooms, pre-kindergarten and high school classrooms on Nov. 16.