Area Superintendents Ask for Help Slowing COVID Spread

Superintendents from districts that make up the Southern Idaho Conference banded together to ask the community to help slow COVID spread so schools can continue to safely educate students. They are asking that people take simple precautions such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing their hands. Following is their letter.

Community Letter from Southern Idaho Conference Superintendents

November 13, 2020

Dear Parents and Community Members,

Schools have worked tirelessly to make sure our students and staff are as safe as possible throughout the pandemic. Mask requests/requirements, bus and class schedule modifications, and disinfecting protocols have helped prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in schools. Our efforts have been effective, and schools are being allowed to continue as long as these safety protocols are in place.

Contact tracing has shown that few cases have transmitted within schools, and the majority of cases come from outside contact and events. While we are complying with all requirements, the recent spikes and daily community counts are threatening our ability to keep schools open. As school districts in the Southern Idaho Conference (SIC), we are asking that you please help us slow the spread by following local guidelines.

When we opened schools in late August/early September, the weekly positive COVID-19 cases in the counties where the SIC schools are located (Ada, Canyon and Gem) were approximately 800 cases. Alarmingly, in the most recent weekly positive COVID-19 case count exceeded 3,000. We know what will help to combat this dangerous virus - wearing a mask, safe distancing, washing your hands, avoiding social gatherings and large crowds, and when in quarantine, do not go out.

These are the most effective tools we have right now to fight this virus, keep our hospitals operating, and protect our students, faculty, staff and community. Using these tools effectively and consistently is the only way we can keep our schools and businesses open, and workers employed.

We desperately need your help to ensure students can continue in-person learning at school. Data about the spread of the virus in our schools shows our efforts make a difference and have greatly reduced the risk of infections in schools. High community spread and contact tracing most often leads back to someone outside of the schools. That causes significant problems with school operations - too many teachers and staff are out sick or in quarantine and the ones left at school are overloaded. We are not properly staffed for effective education of your children. We also are seeing an increasing number of our students testing positive, which requires they stay home for a period of time along with any of their close contacts.

We need everyone in our community to follow our lead and embrace the simple steps – wearing a mask, socially distance and washing your hands – to reduce the spread of the virus, and allow us to keep schools open and operational for in person learning.

As you gather with your loved ones this holiday season, please do so safely and follow the guidelines from Centers for Disease Control to prevent the spread of the virus.

Please, if nothing else, do these things for the people you love most – your wife or husband, your aunt or uncle, your parents and grandparents, and especially your children. We ask you to join us in doing all that you can to help protect both our school community and the greater community.


Respectfully,

Wendy Johnson, Kuna School District, SIC President
Shalene French, Caldwell School District, SIC Vice President
Paula Kellerer, Nampa School District, SIC Secretary
James Gilbert, Mountain Home School District, SIC Treasurer
Coby Dennis, Boise School District
MaryAnn Ranells, West Ada School District
Sarah Quilici/Rich Raimondi, Idaho Catholic Schools/Bishop Kelly HS
Pat Charlton, Vallivue School District
Craig Woods, Emmett School District
Kristin Beck, Middleton School District
Russ Duke, Central District Health
Nikki Zogg, Southwest District Health

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