March 14, 2020
Parents & Guardians,
With the ever-changing information on and the increased spreading of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Potlatch School District will be implementing emergency educational plans and protocol in case of a district-wide closure to our schools, due to the growing risk of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, our District continues to keep our doors open, as we operate our schools as normally as possible. This includes both our academic programs, as well as all extra-curricular activities and events.
However, should a school closure take place, notification to students and parents will be immediate. This information will be sent out in several ways. This includes:
- Posting on our Website Page.
- Posting on our Facebook Page.
- Posting on our Mobile App – SchoolPointe.
- District E-Mail and Phone Alert system.
At this time, closure of the District would most likely happen only when a known case of the virus springs up in our community, as well as any neighboring community, both in Idaho and in Washington. Although we know now that we have a known case in the state of Idaho (an individual in the Boise valley), the North Central Health District and the Idaho State Department of Health have stated that the risk for exposure or spreadability in this instance is relatively low.
Should a school closure take place, it will be highly likely that it will be for a duration of 14-days minimum. During that time, students will be asked to remain at home and receive their education through alternative means of instruction. The most effective and timely alternative will be through online programming. This is called “eDay Planning”. We will utilize our Google Classroom platform to provide this instruction, both at the Elementary and Secondary levels. However, we are fully aware that that not all of our households have online/wireless capabilities or devices to use. In these instances, work packets and learning materials will be available for parents and/or guardians to pick up at the school on an on-going basis. The opportunity will also be developed for students to be able to make appointments with their teachers for individualized instruction or sessions, if at all possible. The Idaho State Department of Education has given school districts a great deal of flexibility in how school districts can provide their instruction and how school days can continue on, without making up required instructional days in the summer months.
As a District, we are not only looking at alternatives for educating our students during a school closure, we are looking at alternative methods of providing food services for students as well. In a collaborative effort between our Food Service program and our Transportation Department, we will work at providing breakfast and lunch to our students by going to various drop-off points throughout the District. This will allow the students the opportunity for “grab & go” meals and provide them with nutritious food for the day. We will continue to work on the logistics and details on how this will actually look and provide you with more details as it is further developed.
As for our staff, both Classified and Certified staff will be expected to continue to come to work, unless they, themselves are sick, or they are taking care of their own family’s needs and care during this time, or there is imminent danger of the virus being contracted being at the school itself. The staff will have modified schedules while they are at work but they will be on-hand and available to help students online, via texts and phone calls, and by appointment, on a daily basis.
Lastly, over 95% of our students at the Junior-Senior High School are involved in one or more State-sponsored extra-curricular activity. Already state championships and state competition in various activities have been cancelled, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. These include State Cheerleading and Dance, State Speech, State Debate, State Band, State FFA, and State FCCLA. We can expect more cancellations in the weeks to come. However, at this time, local activities will continue, unless a school closure goes into effect. At that time, we will shut down athletic programs and club activities until further notice.
In closing, please be assured that we are responding to this crisis appropriately and proactively. The safety of your children, our students, is paramount and we do not take this responsibility lightly. As new information rolls in, we will adjust our plans accordingly and communicate those changes to you. I encourage you to contact your child’s/children’s teachers, school administrators, or myself, if you have questions or concerns. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your support during this extremely difficult time.
Jeffrey A. Cirka, Superintendent
Potlatch School District #285