TSD 401 extends distance learning through end of school year

TETON VALLEY, Ida. — Whatever Idaho Governor Brad Little decides regarding a possible continued stay-at-home order or a relaxing of measures designed to slow the spread of COVID, the Teton School District announced today they will not go back to school.

Citing a safe environment for students and staff as top priority, the Board of Trustees of Teton School District 401 voted unanimously Monday evening to extend home-based/online learning through the end of the academic school year. The decision came following two-plus hours of discussion of the district’s admin team recommendation to continue the ‘soft closure’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The special school board meeting was scheduled in order to have several pieces of relevant information released last week: Governor Brad Little amended and extended Idaho’s stay-at-home order on Wednesday and the State Board of Education released school reopening criteria on Thursday. The TSD admin team met Friday to analyze whether it was feasible for local public schools to go back into regular session based on each point of the criteria.

Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme presented the admin team’s recommendation point by point. Principals then gave specifics about their schools’ concerns and answered questions from the board.

The decision allows some specific one-on-one exceptions, where a few students may be able to meet with educators, including Career-Technical Education students who need to complete projects at THS, and those with Special Education needs at each of the schools. Those encounters, to be scheduled by teachers, service providers and principals, will carefully follow CDC guidelines.

TEA President Angela Hoopes presented teachers’ viewpoints. James Corbett of Eastern Idaho Public Health also attended the virtual meeting and relayed his perspective.

The board directed Woolstenhulme and the admin-team to bring additional recommendations regarding THS graduation, honoring seniors, and other possible end-of-year activities to its May 11 regular meeting.

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