BOISE, Idaho — As the fall school year gets closer and closer, school districts around the Treasure Valley are working to determine how to begin the school year safely and intelligently.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, districts are faced with the difficult decision of welcoming students back for in-person classes or beginning the year remotely.
Many of the school districts in the Valley have laid out their reopening plans with just weeks before the year is set to begin. Here is what KTVB knows so far.
Boise School District
The Boise School District will begin its online and virtual school Monday, August 17.
Boise online school is online learning throughout the entire school year. Virtual school is for students who opt to go to their neighborhood schools in person but will learn online until there is less community spread. School officials hope students can return to school by September 8.
Those students will also return to a virtual format if there is an outbreak at their school.
For elementary school students, Boise online and Boise virtual class schedules are similar.
Teachers for virtual school will be the same assigned teachers for students when in-person classes resume. Instructors for Boise online school will also be assigned to their students throughout the school year.
For grades seven through 12, the schedule for Boise online school is quite different from the virtual and traditional school format.
Boise online students will focus on half of their courses in the first quarter and the other half the second quarter.
By the end of the first semester, online students will have completed the same number of courses as students in traditional schools. The district says that this block format is more conducive to online learning.
Online students also have the option to switch back to in-person learning, or vice versa, at the end of a semester.
The district also offers parents an online-only learning option for their students. The deadline to enroll in online-only was July 31, but the district has since extended that deadline.
Parents can contact their schools in the district before August 17, the preemptive start date, and enroll their children in the online learning option.
For more information regarding the district's reopening plans, visit the Boise School District website.
Caldwell School District
The first day of school in the Caldwell School District was postponed to August 27. It was originally August 17.
Students attending elementary schools will attend school for half days four days a week. Some will attend classes in the morning, and others will go in the afternoon to maintain social distancing. They will then spend one day learning remotely.
Middle and high school students will spend two full days a week at school and will spend one day learning remotely.
Masks will be required in all Caldwell School District buildings.
You can read the district's full reopening plan here.
Kuna School District
The Kuna School Board on Tuesday approved its blended learning model, meaning students will be in class part-time and online part-time.
Students will either go to school on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, depending on the initial of their last name.
Students with last names ending with the letters A-L will go to school on Mondays and Wednesdays, while students with the last names ending in M-Z will go to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Fridays will be entirely online for every student.
The district is also offering students an opportunity to opt into the Kuna Virtual School. Young students enrolled in the online school will spend 30 to 90 minutes "in class" per day, while older students will spend up to three hours per course online each week.
The board also voted to delay the start date from August 27 to August 31.
Kuna School District's comprehensive reopening plan can be found on their website.
Middleton School District
The Middleton School District Board of Trustees held a virtual meeting on Monday with the intent to finalize plans for the beginning of the school year.
The board voted to delay the beginning of the year to Sept. 8 and tabled a discussion regarding which category, referring to the amount of community transmission in a given area, schools will open under.
Trustees approved a change to the reopening plan that allows a limited number of students back on campus each week during the Red Category. Superintendent Kristin Beck said this could mean students will only be in the classroom for one day a week.
Trustees will use the next two weeks "to develop standards and metrics for Middleton School District" to determine the rate of community transmission and when it is or is not acceptable for students to be in the classroom.
The board can determine which category will be in place for reopening once those metrics have been designated. The district will communicate its findings to parents before school begins.
Nampa School District
The Nampa School Board decided that newly-approved strategies will be implemented and that students will begin the year fully online.
The new school year will begin on August 24, one week later than originally anticipated. In addition to the delayed re-opening, students will begin the year in an online classroom setting.
Every two weeks, the board will examine the extent to which community spread of COVID-19 is present. If the district sees community spread at a lower level, they will then consider the possibility of conducting classes in an online manner.
This process will continue until the board feels students can safely return back to the classroom for full-time in-person learning. Once students do return to the classroom, masks will be required.
Read more here.
Ontario School District
The Ontario School District will be starting the year with remote learning.
The state of Oregon announced that counties need to meet specific metrics before re-opening. Those metrics include hitting a case rate of fewer than ten cases per population of 100,000. The county’s test positivity rate also needs to fall under 5%.
The school district bought 750 Chromebooks and some hot spots to make sure all students and staff have access to the virtual learning program.
The district was initially preparing for a blended hybrid model. That way, if a student or teacher needed to stay at home because they became infected or needed to quarantine after potentially being exposed, they could still attend class virtually.
Vallivue School District
The Vallivue School Board voted Tuesday night to approve pushing the start date of the school year back from August 19 to August 25.
The board also gave the green light to an online option for elementary schools. This will include hiring several positions, including a tech position, six certified online teachers and one special education teacher.
Vallivue District's full re-opening plan is available on their website. The district has implemented a Green-Yellow-Red system "that outlines what students, staff and parents can expect under different conditions". The district plans to follow guidance from Southwest District Health throughout the year.
In the Green category, students will attend school in-person full time. Schools will also implement increased precautionary measures and procedures.
In the Yellow category, the district will continue procedures under the Green category but may adjust learning schedules. This could mean classroom, grade-level or school closure until the district returns to the Green category.
In the Red category, procedures from the Green and Yellow category will be followed, but A/B schedules will be implemented to further social distancing measures. Under this category, the district may decide to close on or all schools if conditions warrant.
Districtwide, students will work remotely on Mondays each week. Elementary school students will return to the classroom Tuesday through Friday.
For middle and high school students, the time spent in the classroom will be divided. Half of the students will attend in-person classes Tuesday and Thursday, and the other half will attend Wednesday and Friday.
You can read the district's full reopening plan here.
West Ada School District
West Ada School District voted on August 5 to push back the district's start date to September 8. No decision has been made regarding whether classes will be held online or in-person but the district plans to make that decision on August 25.
Should the district decide to hold in-person classes, extra precautionary measures, such as wearing a mask in the school building and maintaining social distancing, will be implemented.
For those who prefer learning remotely, West Ada School District is offering students enrollment in the Virtual School House, their model of online learning.
You can read the district's full reopening plan and learn more about the Virtual School House here.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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