School leaders report staffing concerns as they prepare to reopen

Staffing issues are starting to become a concern for some school administrators as the first day of school arrives or draws closer in Idaho.

“I’m losing staff, or at least they are trying to leave, for a variety of reasons,” Twin Falls Superintendent Brady Dickinson told the State Board of Education Monday. “The number of requests for leaves of absence this year have skyrocketed.”

The number has been building, Dickinson said. Then, in the last week, five more staff members requested leave after the district announced plans to open in the yellow, with all students on campus.

With the coronavirus continuing to spread, it’s not just a problem in Twin Falls.

Becky Meyer

“We do not have enough substitute teachers in any of our North Idaho districts, so that is a concern if we have to have a teacher who has to self-isolate,” Lakeland Superintendent Becky Meyer said.

For others, the basics are in short supply, whether it’s devices, supplies or cleaning materials.

“Depending what you need, good luck,” Homedale Superintendent Rob Sauer said. “For example, getting any Clorox wipes, those aren’t available.”

Poor internet connectivity is also an issue throughout western Idaho’s Region 3, which includes large districts such as Boise and West Ada alongside small, rural districts such as Basin and Horseshoe Bend.

Still, several districts are planning to reopen for in-person classes.

“The majority of us are sitting in green (lowest risk category) and feel comfortable opening up face-to-face,” Genesee Superintendent Wendy Moore said, taking about schools in North Idaho’s Region 2.

The same goes for school districts in Southeast Idaho’s Region 5.

“All of our schools are planning to open with some form of face-to-face (instruction),” Preston Superintendent Marc Gee said. He added that most of the region’s schools are moving ahead with sports as well.

Public schools and charters aren’t the only ones navigating reopening challenges. Boise State University begins class next week as well. Boise State plans for about 50 percent of its classes to have an in-person component.

State Board member Kurt Liebich told Boise State President Marlene Tromp that BSU’s reopening will likely affect more than just the university’s own students and staff.

“How well Boise State goes through this reopening is likely going to dictate whether or not we are able to open our K-12 schools,” Liebich said. “I think all of these things are linked as you get into a big metro area like Boise.”


Clark Corbin

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