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IEA president urges ‘hot spot’ schools to go online

| August 5, 2020 1:00 AM

The president of the Idaho Education Association released a statement Tuesday urging schools in areas experiencing high volumes of COVID-19 to go completely online when school resumes.

"As positivity rates of the dangerous COVID-19 virus continue to increase in many Idaho communities, the course of action for public schools in those areas is clear — school buildings in communities considered 'hot spots' should remain closed and districts should shift to online instruction," IEA President Layne McInelly stated in the release. "It’s an unfortunate circumstance but a necessary decision to protect the lives of Idahoans threatened by a pandemic that shows no signs of abating in our state."

McInelly said "hot spots" are areas where the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing is above 5 percent, which is the threshold the Centers for Disease Control uses to recommend remote learning instead of in-person instruction.

According to recent reports, about 75 percent of Idaho public school students are enrolled in schools whose communities are classified as hot spots. A document prepared recently by the White House also included Idaho among the states classified as “red zones” that should strongly consider more stringent measures to protect citizens and reduce the strain on health care facilities, McInelly said.

McInelly said district officials should follow the guidelines established by the State Board of Education and should solicit input from educators and health professionals.

"The situation we are dealing with is far from ideal and we recognize that district leaders have uncomfortable decisions to make," he said, "but educators are calling on them do the right thing to protect students, educators, families and communities."

— Devin Weeks