Challis students and teachers are hoping they can return to their classrooms in the fall, but the superintendent said that will come with strings attached.
Superintendent Lani Rembelski reviewed new physical distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with school board members at their June meeting. She said the guidelines are very strict.
“It would be difficult to implement these,” Rembelski said.
The first challenge comes with school buses, as federal health experts say only one student per seat. Rembelski said this is impossible to implement in a cost-efficient way because it requires bus drivers to make multiple trips to and from schools.
Another guideline says students and teachers should only meet one-on-one, Rembelski said, which defeats the purpose of a teacher holding in-person classes because it would be more effective to meet students as a group through remote learning.
Students also shouldn’t use the lunch room, Rembelski said, and teachers should stagger lunch breaks and recess since health experts say large crowds, even outside, are more likely to result in the spread the coronavirus than any other means of transmission.
The hardest part of these recommendations are they undercut the point of public education, Rembelski said.
“The idea of public education is to let kids interact,” she said, “interact with their teachers, other students and learn from them.”
The CDC guidelines are not set in stone, Rembelski said, and the rules won’t be enforced, but they strongly encourage the practices be followed.
The Idaho State Board of Education will release its own list of recommendations on July 1, and Rembelski is hopeful that list is less stringent. State education officials are working with the governor’s office to come up with guidelines more suited to Idaho, she said.
However, Rembelski said she wishes the state would release its guidelines earlier. The school district needs a workable plan as soon as possible, she said.