Thousands of parents responded to an Idaho Falls School District 91 survey to let officials know their thoughts about a return to classes in the fall.
More than 3,000 parents replied to some or all of the survey questions sent to help the district determine how the coronavirus-affected school year will work. District officials have said they will use the parent feedback to help create the fall reentry plan, which will be made available to the public later this week and potentially approved by the school board during its July 15 meeting.
Of the survey‘s respondents, more than half said they planned to send their kids back to school in the fall if the district reopened for in-person classes. Another 32% said they planned to send their kids back if they were “confident reasonable precautions are being taken to ensure a safe environment.”
“People were appreciate of the effort on the part of teachers to work with students during the spring, but going forward there is a desire for the new normal and clarity with the system,” Superintendent George Boland said.
When it came to safety measures for the fall, parents were most concerned with cleanliness and prevention of the spread of COVID-19. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said that frequent hand-washing during the school day was one of the three biggest precautions they hoped to see in place during the fall. The supply of hand sanitizer and daily disinfection of common areas in the school placed among the top three concerns for more than half of the parents surveyed.
The survey also included questions about how parents would want the school year to look if District 91 had to reduce the number of students allowed in school at a time. More than three-quarters of parents voted for a hybrid model, with a mix of in-person and online classes. When asked how they would prefer a hybrid approach to look, the families were split between half-day sessions, with students attending either in the morning or afternoon, and alternating full days of attendance.
Boland said the board would vote on the official reentry plan and other changes for the school year later this month. Those potential changes include loosening the attendance policy to more easily allow symptomatic students and teachers to miss school and setting up a fully online school for families who aren’t comfortable with sending their student back in August.
Idaho’s public school reopening committee met Monday morning to discuss a final draft of reopening criteria, which will likely be presented to the State Board of Education later this week. The Madison, Jefferson and West Side school districts have already announced fall school plans that would see students attending school in-person to start the year.