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'We are in the climb right now with this virus': Nampa School Board pushes reopening to August 24, students to start the year online

Following recommendations of local health care professionals, the Nampa School Board voted to re-open schools in the district under newly-approved protocols.

NAMPA, Idaho — The Nampa School Board held a meeting on Thursday to determine how schools will safely open their doors this fall. 

The 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 person.

This process will continue until the board feels students can safely return back to the classroom for full-time in-person learning.

The board voted to require that all students will be required to wear face masks throughout the year when social distancing cannot be followed. Schools will also limit students from interacting with community areas, such as drinking fountains and vending machines.

District-wide measures were also approved. All schools will be required to follow the latest guidance from the CDC and adhere to district preventative practices, such as educating students about ways in which the virus spreads.

Three health care professionals from different facilities were present during the board meeting. Dr. Jim Souza, Chief Medical Officer for the St Luke’s System in Boise and Mr. Travis Leech, President of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa, offered updates on the COVID-19 situation in their respected areas as well as offer recommendations to the board regarding re-opening.

Souza and Leech stressed that community spread is still very prevalent in the Nampa area. Leech said that until community spread reaches the green level, face masks should be required for students and faculty.

Mark Nassir, president of Saint Alphonsus Medical Group, said the Nampa community will only lower the amount of community spread by listening to the advice of medical professionals.

"We are in the climb right now with this virus," Nassir said.

Ms. Kimberly Beckley, school liaison for Southwest District Health, shared "a brief update on key Canyon County indicators related to COVID-19 and share SWDH’s interpretation of our current status: Green, Yellow or Red." You can read the criteria for a city to be moved into a new color category here.

The board also reviewed a proposal to delay Nampa School District's start date to the end of August. Should this pass, staff return dates will also be delayed. As of 9:30 p.m., the measure had not been voted on.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

KTVB will live stream the board meeting on KTVB.COM and on the KTVB Youtube Channel.  

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