ANNOUNCEMENTS & UPDATES
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School Board workshop with Panhandle Health District
On July 20, our Board of Trustees held a board workshop with representatives of Panhandle Health District to hear an update on the coronavirus pandemic and the rising number of cases in Kootenai County and North Idaho. Trustees asked health district Director Lora Whalen and epidemiologist Jeff Lee questions about the state of the pandemic here and the potential impact on opening schools this fall.
You may watch the board workshop by clicking here on this link.
Kootenai Health statement on wearing masks
Kootenai Health Position on Masking in Public, July 16, 2020
"Since April 22, Kootenai Health has required all employees, patients and visitors in the hospital and clinics to wear a facemask. Since July 2, because of increasing community rates of COVID-19 infection and the success seen in our clinical areas, Kootenai has required all 3,500 employees in every Kootenai Health facility to wear a mask. These measures have resulted in a significantly lower rate of transmission in Kootenai employees than in health care workers across the nation.
"As health care leaders, Kootenai Health staff and physicians have dedicated thousands of hours to understanding, preparing for and caring for those affected by COVID-19. After observing the spread of COVID-19 in northern Idaho and other parts of the world, it is clear that wearing a mask helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19. It is Kootenai Health’s position that everyone should wear a protective facemask when out in public.
"While our primary focus is health care, we are also community members who want to see our local economy and school districts thrive. We understand the significant hardship lockdowns have on local businesses, and the impact school closures have on our children and families. Kootenai wants to avoid lockdowns and focus on practical solutions.
"Masking has been proven to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19. It is as simple as that. The choice is ours; wear masks, slow the spread, keep businesses open and give our schools the best possible environment for re-opening, or do nothing while COVID-19 sweeps through our community. At Kootenai Health, we will be wearing masks. We hope you will join us."
Take our survey on the new school year
We are working this summer on our plans for the new school year, and we want to make sure we hear from you as we prepare to ask the School Board to make these important decisions.
Even as we’re seeing an increase in the spread of coronavirus in our community, our emphasis will be how to provide in-school instruction in a safe and healthy manner, with options for distance learning or a combination of in-school and online instruction, as needed. The District is working with our partners in public health and using guidance from the State of Idaho in designing our comprehensive back-to-school strategy.
Just as important is having input from parents, students and our employees. We are asking you to complete a short survey to help guide us in our planning for the start of school this September. Your responses will help the District administration and the School Board understand your needs so we can best serve you and all the members of our learning community.
While it is our full intention to have students back in school, five days per week and full time for face-to-face instruction this fall, we recognize that safety has to be an equivalent consideration as we plan to return to school.
We recognize that we will need a distance learning platform for students who may need a completely online option or families who prefer this approach. Additionally, online instruction would be available in combination with face-to-face instruction for a "blended learning" approach, which helps us with social distancing in our buildings, should the community impact of coronavirus necessitate stricter measures. The distance learning option also would be available in the event we had to close a school temporarily as response to a student, staff member or visitor testing positive for COVID-19.
As you can see, we are approaching this year with a very flexible design. Our desire to maximize student learning while balancing student and staff safety makes it necessary to be versatile and agile in our planning. This is why it's so important that we have a reliable, adaptable plan for the school year that provides for a variety of learning options, coupled with a range of safety measures, to respond to changing circumstances. At any given time your child's school may be providing instruction fully in-person, in a blended learning model, or entirely through distance learning, depending on current health and safety considerations. We will use all our available tools and resources to balance essential learning with a healthy environment for our students and staff.
This survey will be available until 9 PM on Friday, July 24. It takes about 10 minutes to complete. Thank you for your participation!
Take our back to school survey now:
PARENTS: If you are a parent or guardian in our District, please take this SURVEY.
STUDENTS: We also invite middle and high school students to complete a similar survey. Parents, please encourage your students in grades 6-12 to take this SURVEY.
Return (or purchase) student Chromebooks
If you checked out a Chromebook for a student during the soft closure last spring, please return the device to our District Office, 1400 N. Northwood Center Court, between 9 AM and 3 PM, Monday through Friday.
Families also have the option of purchasing their Chromebook from the District for $25. If you are interested in purchasing the device you checked out in the spring, please notify us by email, email@example.com.
Keep your accounts separate: With students and parents using the same devices, at times it can be confusing which account is being used. Fortunately, in Google Chrome you can use "Profiles" to keep everything separated and make logging in a breeze. See this guide for detailed directions: Using Chrome Profiles to Keep Accounts Separated
June 26 update for students and families
We hope you are having a great summer and finding healthy activities to enjoy with your kids.
Students may not be ready to think about school again, but you may be wondering what the new school year will look like as our state and community continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are making plans to be back in our schools starting Sept. 8, the first day of the new school year. We are committed to returning to face-to-face instruction this fall, and attention to health and safety will be vital in how we do that. Additionally, we are planning for and developing a range of options available to meet the needs of students and to respond to changing conditions.
Our priority is the safety of our students and staff. Likewise, it’s essential that students are learning the knowledge, skills and dispositions valued in our community, in ways that students find engaging and meaningful. Our challenge is to maintain an appropriate balance between these priorities, against the backdrop of a global health crisis and economic turmoil.
We are designing our back-to-school plans with input from federal, state and local authorities in education and public health. This includes guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the Idaho Department of Education, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the State Board of Education, Panhandle Health District, and our own Board of Trustees.
We are also looking closely at what many of you told us about your experience with remote learning this past spring. We received 2,500 responses to our recent survey about the District’s performance during the emergency response to the spreading pandemic. We are reviewing all of the feedback and preparing to present it to the Board of Trustees on July 6. These insights show us what we got right and where we fell short. We know we need to be more intentional, coordinated and focused in the coming school year.
We also are working to establish an online learning platform for students and families who may need or want this option. Online learning will also be available should a school need to close temporarily in response to a student, staff member or visitor testing positive for COVID-19.
We may offer a “blended learning” option, with students attending in person on designated days and attending classes online other days, or dividing the school day between school and home. Such a model would make it easier to manage social distancing in our buildings.
Flexibility will be a key component of our strategy in the months ahead. If it again becomes necessary to shift to an all-online model, we will endeavor to equip students with the technology they need at home, and we will do our best to facilitate learning that is robust and engaging in ways that are simple to navigate.
Other answers to common questions:
Will students be required to wear face masks? No, we do not plan to require students to wear face masks at this time. We strongly encourage using face coverings to reduce the spread of this virus, per public health recommendations, and we will provide a face covering for anyone who would like to wear one at school.
How will you enforce social distancing in schools?We know students will not be able to stay six feet from one another every moment of the school day, but we will strive to organize schedules and arrange classrooms and other spaces to help people spread out as much as possible.
What other precautions will you take?Frequent hand-washing will continue to be emphasized, and anyone experiencing symptoms or feeling ill will be sent home. Additionally, we will have enhanced cleaning procedures and sufficient cleaning supplies available in all schools.
When will more details be available? We will provide updates at least every couple of weeks on our back-to-school plans. Look for District newsletters as well as updates at cdaschools.org and on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds (cdaschools).
Are there deadlines to be aware of this summer? Our annual Online Verification for every returning student will begin July 14, and it will be important for all families to log into their Skyward account and complete this process before school starts. We will notify you when it’s time. Online Verification lets us know you are returning in the fall, confirms your residence and contact information, and verifies other important details of your student’s enrollment. If you used our Open Enrollment process to apply to have your elementary student attend a school other than your zoned school, you will be informed about your student’s placement in late August. The Open Enrollment application window is closed now for all students.
Please join us in doing all we can to keep our community healthy and reduce the spread of coronavirus.
State Board of Education approves school reopening framework
The Idaho State Board of Education on June 9 approved a framework plan to safely reopen Idaho public schools this fall.
The Idaho Back to School Framework sets expectations, establishes guidelines and provides best practices for school districts and charter schools to use to open school buildings and plan for necessary actions based on local public health conditions.
State Board President Debbie Critchfield says opening schools is a priority and local school officials should use the Back to School Framework as a guide in working with local stakeholders and public health districts to open schools in a manner that fits local circumstances.
“We’ve outlined recommended procedures based on the level of coronavirus transmission occurring in various communities across the state at any given time and we’ve listed the procedures by category,” Critchfield said. “For instance, a school located in a Category 1 area where there is no community spread occurring can use this framework as guidance on how to open the school. On the other hand, a school located in a Category 3 area where there is substantial community spread will see suggested considerations for school board decision making.”
“We put this framework together with help from educators, administrators, public health officials and lawmakers,” Critchfield added. “Local governance is paramount in Idaho’s public education system. We want these decisions to be made locally and this framework is designed to help school board trustees to do what they think is best for their schools and their situation on the ground.”
You can find the Idaho Back to School Framework here on the State Board of Education website.
Panhandle Health strongly endorses community-wide masking, social distancing
This week the Board of Health for Panhandle Health District acknowledged the significant recent increase in COVID-19 infected case numbers in North Idaho.
The health district on June 8 issued the following statement:
This increase in case numbers will significantly increase COVID-19 illness in our community and the resulting increased demands on healthcare, as well as having a negative impact on business activity, personal interactions and related activities. There is also the potential for the increased infections to overwhelm our regional healthcare capacity.
Based upon previous research with influenza virus, SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV, and evolving research with COVID-19, PHD strongly endorses community-wide masking, social (physical) distancing, and repeated proper hand hygiene (properly wash hands, use hand sanitizer, keep hands away from face).
Ongoing research regarding the spread of infective viruses documents that such viruses are released in droplets during exhalation, coughing, and even talking. Research indicates that such droplets can be small enough to remain aloft in the air.
In light of the serious danger and implications due to this recent significant increase in COVID-19 infected cases, PHD strongly recommends that our community members be consistent and vigilant in practicing the following:
- On a Community-wide basis use masking, social (physical) distancing, and repeated proper hand hygiene (properly wash hands, use hand sanitizer, keep hands away from face).
- Make sure that all indoor gathering sites provide sufficient and effective ventilation, particularly in public buildings, workplace environments, schools, hospitals, and aged care homes (opening both doors and windows can dramatically increase airflow rates in many buildings).
- Avoid overcrowding, particularly in public transport and in public buildings.
- When possible, provide supplemental general ventilation with airborne infection control such as local exhaust and high efficiency air filtration.
- It is recommended that local businesses require masking by their employees in all situations where self-isolation (i.e. private offices) is not possible, require (or at least encourage) patrons to wear a mask upon entry to the establishments (particularly when physical distancing is not possible), keep surfaces in the business effectively clean, and provide hand sanitizer for employees and patrons.
Individuals should use masks in public when they cannot accomplish physical distancing of at least 6 feet. Such mask use can reduce case transmission.
PHD also continues to endorse increasing testing availability, as well as ongoing case identification and epidemiologic tracking.
PHD will continue to monitor the situation and while not currently endorsing mandatory rules and/or a COVID-19 Recovery Stage roll-back, PHD may consider such actions if necessary to protect the health of our community.
By the numbers: COVID-19 cases in Idaho
9,928 - Confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases statewide
500 - New cases (highest number of reported cases in Idaho in a single day to date)
101 - Deaths
121,640 - Laboratory tests completed
4,250 - New laboratory tests completed
449 - Hospitalizations
138 - ICU admissions
708 - Healthcare workers who have or have had COVID-19
567 - Confirmed or probable cases in residents and staff members associated with long-term care facility outbreaks
62 - Deaths associated with long-term care facility outbreaks
For details: https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/
I have questions about coronavirus. How can I get them answered?
Panhandle Health has established a hotline for community members to get answers to questions about coronavirus.
Hotline hours: Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM. (Hours may expand in the future).
By the numbers
COVID-19 cases in Idaho
13,133 - Confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases statewide
688 - New cases
114 - Deaths
139,481 - Laboratory tests completed
3,426 - New laboratory tests completed
554 - Hospitalizations
165 - ICU admissions
823 - Healthcare workers who have or have had COVID-19
675 - Confirmed or probable cases in residents and staff members associated with long-term care facility outbreaks
68 - Deaths associated with long-term care facility outbreaks
For details: https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/
Coronavirus spreads through close personal contact with a sick person.
- Shortness of breath
Call your healthcare provider if:
- You have symptoms and have been to a country that has experienced an outbreak within the last 2 weeks of your travel.
- You have symptoms and have been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often, with soap, for at least 20 seconds each time, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Cover your cough/sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Talking to Children about COVID-19 (coronavirus) Updated 3/25/20 PDF (From National Association of Psychologist and National Association of School Nurses)
Please refer to this Coronavirus Fact Sheet from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers