TSD 401 follows its reopening plan as COVID levels rise

Update 7 p.m. Nov. 10, 2020: Per Eastern Idaho Public Health, Teton County, Idaho is now at the Critical (red) Level.
The public schools change to home-based learning this Monday, Nov. 16. TSD will stay in this learning module through at least Thanksgiving break.

DRIGGS, Ida. — At its meeting on Monday, November 9, the Teton School District 401 Board of Trustees discussed difficult details about the Reopening Plan it approved in August as Teton County, Idaho, faces increased numbers of coronavirus cases.

The main questions were how best and when to make needed transitions, given that the county is already in the High Risk (orange) level and may move to Critical (red) level in the next few days. Eastern Idaho Public Health will make that determination, potentially by tonight.

By consensus, the board followed the recommendations of Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme, the district’s admin team, and TEA president Angela Hoopes, representing district teachers.

The fine points of the conversation were:
• Today (Tuesday, November 10, 2020) is a regular school day for those attending in person. Students will be sent home with Chromebooks, hotspots, and other necessary learning materials.
• Because the county is at the High-Risk (orange) level per EIPH, all public schools will transition to the Alternate-Day learning model starting tomorrow, November 11, 2020.
• This means students with last names A-K will attend in-person on Wednesday and online Thursday. Students with last names L-Z will work online Wednesday and attend in-person on Thursday. On Friday, all students will be directed by teachers on work that needs to be completed. (The full week in this model is A-K in-person on Monday/Wednesday and L-Z in-person on Tuesday/Thursday, with all students home-based on Friday.) Students working online must log in every day for attendance.

• If the number of active cases per 10,000 population stays above 45 for three straight days, EIPH will move Teton County to Critical Risk (red) and the district will transition to all virtual learning. This transition to the home-based learning model could happen as soon as this coming Monday, November 16, 2020. As was the case following the board’s discussion, parents will be notified by principals about this change in status.
• If this transition occurs, the district would continue home-based learning through Thanksgiving. At that time, the risk-level status will be re-evaluated and parents will again have 24-hour notice of any change.
• TSD 401 intends to keep families attending together; for example, if there are a number of siblings in a household, the last name of the oldest student will determine which group the younger ones fall into. If you have specific questions or need to modify which schedule your child is on, contact the principal of the school your child attends.
• Families with students enrolled in the district will continue to receive free breakfasts and lunches. For non in-person days, parents must sign-up for these meals for each child. Signups for this week must be in BEFORE 6 am on Wednesday, November 11. Meals will be available for pick-up at three locations (in Driggs at Teton Middle School, at
Victor Elementary and at Tetonia Elementary). Friday’s meals will be included in Thursday’s pickup.

“We recognize these transitions will be a challenge to parents and appreciate that you, like everyone in the district, are working hard to make this successful for all students,” TSD 401 said in a press release.

Although educators want to keep schools open, student safety and the ability of staff to provide quality education continue to be paramount. The community can do its part by following CDC guidelines so that our county’s numbers drop back to the Moderate (yellow) level.

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