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West Ada School Board chairman resigns following certification of recall effort

Chairman Philip Neuhoff issued his resignation from the West Ada School Board of Trustees following testimony from a parent.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Following a two-and-a-half-hour meeting Tuesday night, West Ada School Board Chairman Philip Neuhoff submitted his resignation from the board. He made the announcement after testimony from a West Ada parent who stated the recall efforts against him had been certified.

"I've walked the streets of your zone, I live in your zone," the parent said of chairman Neuhoff. "It's not close. We're looking for you to step down and resign. Don't put the district through a political campaign. The people have spoken, they've signed the petitions, and they clearly want you to step down."

Neuhoff was aware that the recall election against him had been certified and stated he had until Wednesday to decide whether he would fight the vote. After stating he had given the issue a lot of thought, he issued his resignation.

"A lot of me doesn't want to put up with bullies like people that are leading this recall. In general, I would stand here and stay on the board and fight. But as it would happen, this afternoon as I was pondering all of this, something happened that made me realize there are other things in my life that I need to attend to. While I would dearly love to sit and fight these people at the polls, I think it's the right time now for me to step aside and take care of the rest of my things," Neuhoff said. "So after the meeting, I'm going to hand the clerk a letter of resignation that goes into effect at 11:59 this evening. It's been a pleasure serving with you all."

The board was also set to vote on a new pandemic operating plan for next semester but ultimately decided to postpone the vote in order to allow for a legal review and to give time for board members to review a few new additions to the plan.

The board will hold a special session sometime next week to vote on the plan.

The plan was drafted and reviewed with the help of Dr. David Pate, retired president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System.

Pate and school officials consistently review the operating plans to ensure they are in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health guidelines.

West Ada posted a video of Pate reviewing the plan on the school district's website. You can view the video in the YouTube player below:

The revised proposal offers more comprehensive definitions of "pandemic language", including close contact, cluster, mask and face covering, and quarantine and isolation.

For the upcoming semester, the district will focus on three main methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19: maintaining six feet of distance between each person, proper use of face masks or coverings, and frequent hand washing and sanitation.

In situations where physical distance cannot be maintained, other efforts will be implemented to ensure student and teacher safety, including the use of pods in elementary schools, plexiglass barriers on desks, seating charts, and protected spaces within the classrooms.

All schools in the district have also implemented a greater focus on handwashing, sanitation, cleaning, disinfecting, and proper use of face masks.

The superintendent has the authority to determine if and when an individual classroom or school needs to close down and return to remote learning due to an outbreak.

For schools not learning entirely online, returning to the classroom will be determined based on grade level. The West Ada school board has approved the following reopening criteria:

Preschool-Grade 5

  • Daily in-person learning with an early release on Mondays

Grade 6-12

  • Hybrid learning schedule, alternating in-person instruction and remote for all students on Mondays
  • Team 1: attend in-person classes Tuesday and Thursday, remote learning Wednesday and Friday
  • Team 2: attend in-person classes Wednesday and Friday, remote learning Tuesday and Thursday

West Ada will begin considering daily in-person instruction for grades 6-12 once grades 4-5 have returned to full in-person learning for one month "with successful physical distancing verified on walk-throughs, and no clusters or outbreaks have occurred in 30 days."

Full in-person learning for high schools will be considered once middle schools have returned for full in-person classes for one month "with successful physical distancing verified on walk-throughs, and no clusters or outbreaks have occurred in 30 days."

In both instances, no widespread school outbreaks must be occurring in any middle or high school.

To read the entire pandemic operating plan draft, click here.

The West Ada School board will vote on this operational plan on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. You can watch the meeting here:

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