Teton to temporarily close elementary school

DRIGGS — The Teton School District will will temporarily close Driggs Elementary School following increased COVID-19 cases.

Trustees approved the change during a special board meeting Monday. For this week, the school will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

But the closure could extend into next week. The district will reassess the situation over the weekend, Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said.

Staffing concerns brought on by a recent spike in COVID-19 activity drove Monday’s decision. As of Monday, two first-grade classes and one kindergarten class at the school were in quarantine. At least 15 students and staffers have tested positive for the illness. The district believes at least 88 others could have been exposed, based on those cases.

The resulting staffing shortfall has exacerbated the need for subs at the school, the district announced Friday.

Meanwhile, increased local cases have put other teachers on alert.

“What’s being asked of teachers right now is crazy,” local teachers’ union president Angela Hoopes said Monday, adding that the “emotional stress level is eating people away.”

Trustee Alexie Hulme questioned closing the school, pointing to concerns over students’ mental health and wasting the school’s food supply.

Trustees went on to vote unanimously for the closure.

Access to technology was another issue at Monday’s meeting. Chromebooks are in short supply, curriculum director Megan Bybee told trustees, with about 150 on back order.

Bybee expects those devices to arrive by early October.

Driggs Elementary enrolls some 300 students and has 20 certified staff members.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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