Let's Get Back to School
This is an unprecedented time in education as schools across the country learn how to operate during the pandemic. At a special meeting of the West Ada School Board on August 4, 2020 the Board made the decision to delay the start of the 2020-2021 school year to September 8 from the original start date of August 27. The Board reached the decision by taking into consideration guidance from medical professionals and a recommendation from the West Ada School District administration.
As a district, we are committed to ensuring our plans to open, whether it is in yellow or red, are successful. This delay will give us the much-needed time in order to do that. This will also give the district more time for training for staff and to deploy technology that will allow us to increase valuable student-teacher interaction as we prepare for the possibility of the yellow or red scenario.
We encourage parents who have concerns sending their children back to school to utilize our Virtual Schoolhouse, https://www.westada.org/VSH. This allows parents an option when it comes to making the decision that is best for their family.
One to One Devices
Students and teachers need to be connected even if they are not able to meet in traditional classrooms. To accomplish this objective, West Ada School District has purchased technology ensuring every student has access to learning. Students in grades K-2 will be issued tablets or laptops, and students in grades 3-12 will be issued laptops. Concerns regarding internet access will be addressed as needed, including using “pucks” and coordination with internet providers for lower-cost connection.
These devices are becoming part of the everyday delivery of education. By integrating this technology into the learning process, students can receive instruction, turn in assignments and receive feedback from their teacher even if school is not able to be held in a traditional classroom.
Providing computers for all students requires a significant investment. West Ada School District was able to make this investment without further reducing its operating budget or cutting programs. New computers were purchased using $7 million in local revenue from plant levy funds.
Training on the use of this technology has been provided to staff and will also be provided to parents and students.
Planning for the Unknown
No one can predict the course of the current world-wide pandemic. One of the lessons from this spring is that West Ada School District needs to be prepared for any scenario. In preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, school staff and district leaders have prepared for three scenarios when schools reopen. Our framework, aligns with the Idaho Back to School Framework and Central District Health Levels of Community Spread, and helps West Ada School District define the criteria used to make decisions.
The district will utilize the weekly category recommendations provided by Central District Health to inform decisions on our category status for school operations.
School Opening Scenarios
Category 1 - Green
No community transmission within school community
- All students attend school daily.
- Schools are open with increased safety precautions and preventative measures.
- In this scenario, we are runnnig school in our new normal which invludes increased safety precautions and preventative measures to help reduce potential spread of the virus.
Category 2 - Yellow
Minimal to moderate community transmission within school community
Utilize alternate day schedule.
- The alternate day schedule reduces class sizes to approximately 15 students to allow for increased physical distancing. Some programs which are already at that enrollment level may be allowed to attend daily.
- The alternate day schedule allows for increased physical distancing, sanitation and preventative measures.
OR - Targeted, short-term or extended school closure with remote learning
- Individual schools may need to move into short-term or possibly extended closure based upon a specific increase in virus transmission within that specific school.
Category 3 - Red
Substantial community transmission
Targeted, short-term or extended school closure with remote learning
- Remote learning implemented.
- Because of 1:1 device deployment, teachers are able to deliver teaching and learning opportunities which are engaging and move learning forward in a remote setting. It will also allow for assessments and grading to continue.
OR - School buildings open but option of limited or staggered use of school buildings with physical distancing and sanitation
- This option allows for schools to bring in small groups of specific students based on their individual needs (IEP, 504, EL, etc.) or specific needs for their program (CTE, AP, etc.).