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West Ada School District will start the year with remote learning

The school board voted Tuesday night to start at least the first week of the school year in the red category, meaning remote learning only.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The West Ada School Board voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to begin the school year in the "red" category, meaning remote learning only. 

The school district previously pushed back its original start date from Aug. 27 to Sept 8. The board held a special meeting on Tuesday to decide what format they would start the school year in - whether it be online-only or a mix of online and in-person.

A representative from Central District Health gave some perspective to case numbers and talked about why Ada County is currently in the red category, which indicates substantial community transmission of COVID-19. She also answered questions from board members. 

The board also heard from Eric Thies, president of the West Ada Education Association. He shared some thoughts and concerns from teachers in the district, including many voicing fears over safety. 

Board members agreed that a decision had to be made Tuesday night. They also agreed that they needed to keep in mind the toll it takes on faculty, students and families to be constantly changing formats. 

"One of the things we have to concern ourselves with is, the yo-yo back and forth is probably not a healthy consideration either," said one board member.

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Nearly four hours into the meeting, the board voted to start the school year remotely for at least the first week. After that, the situation can be re-evaluated if CDH moves Ada County to the yellow, or phase 2, category. 

The board also voted to allow the superintendent and district administration the authority to potentially move the district into yellow after the first week, while still following CDH guidelines. 

West Ada will start its school year remotely on Sept. 8. 

The Boise School Board also voted on Tuesday night to remain in the red category and continue learning entirely remotely for as long as CDH keeps the county in red. The board agreed to give district administration the authority to decide how to phase students back in once it's deemed safe to return by health officials. 

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