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Thursday, September 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  K-12 education

CdA schools will wait two more weeks to determine how school year will start

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 3, 2020

Coeur d’Alene Police Detective and Student Resource Officer Mario Rios passes out Chromebooks at Coeur d’Alene High School on April 1. Coeur d’Alene Public Schools expects to decide later in August if classes in the new school year will start virtually or in-school.  (Kathy Plonka)
Coeur d’Alene Police Detective and Student Resource Officer Mario Rios passes out Chromebooks at Coeur d’Alene High School on April 1. Coeur d’Alene Public Schools expects to decide later in August if classes in the new school year will start virtually or in-school. (Kathy Plonka)

Coeur d’Alene Public Schools is hoping to get the green light to return the classroom this fall.

However, the district has contingency plans should the public health risk factors turn yellow, orange or even red in Kootenai County.

In a letter to families sent Monday, the district laid out its strategy for maximizing learning amid COVID-19.

Its first move is to ask for a little more time.

“We expect that by the week of August 17, we will be able to announce with confidence what risk category and learning model we will be in for the first week of school,” the district said.

That means two more weeks of waiting for almost 11,000 students. However, by staying flexible for as long as possible, the district hopes it can accommodate the wishes of as many families as possible before the school year begins Sept. 8.

“Whatever this fall brings, we will be ready for it,” said Scott Maben, the district’s director of communications. “Students learn best when face-to-face with teachers and their peers, and we hope we can have students safely learning in their classrooms as much as possible.”

If the preliminary plan is approved by the school board on Aug. 24, the district will rely on a color-code system – much like the one approved last week in Post Falls – based on COVID-19 numbers provided by the Panhandle Health District.

Green zone: If the community sees only isolated cases and no evidence of exposure, students will be expected to attend school in-person, full-time. Children may learn at home if parents aren’t comfortable sending them to school.

Yellow zone: This means a moderate spread locally of COVID-19 and a potential for a quick increase in cases. In this zone, students will still be at school, but placed in groups and will interact with those same classmates.

Orange zone: This means widespread transmission in the community. Students would be split in two groups, going to school on Mondays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesday would be a day for teachers to help students online.

Red zone: This means there is an even larger local incidence of COVID-19. In this zone, students would have to stay home and learn from there. The district would work to identify sites for grab-and-go meals.

Regardless, the district plans to assist families with laptops that don’t have one. The district will also help families with internet.

The district’s path will be largely determined by the number of active COVID-19 cases, the rate of positive cases, hospitalizations and other metrics.

“If the virus transmission rate, hospitalizations and other key indicators of community risk tell us it’s not safe to have all students in school all of the time, we will switch to a blended learning model with students attending in person two days a week,” Maben said.

Meanwhile, the Post Falls School District is taking a similar approach. Last week it approved a color-coded system based on statistics from Panhandle Health.

The district plans to assist families with laptops and internet access. It expects to know in late August what color zone it will be in when classes start.

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