Idaho remains in Stage 4 and a new framework is available for schools to open in the fall: Reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

I hope you had a chance to watch Gov. Brad Little’s press conference yesterday. He shared the Idaho Back to School Framework 2020, which outlines:

  • Expectations
  • Support for local governance and decision making
  • Guidance and best practices on the key operational components for safe reopening of schools in the fall

Although Gov. Little  expects public schools to open in the fall, decisions will be made locally by the school districts and local public health districts. Plus, most districts will operationalize “blended learning” for students. Blended learning is the combination of technology-based instruction with traditional, teacher-to-student lessons.

I want to echo the Governor’s appreciation of the school districts, teachers, and parents as they continue to face extraordinary challenges as they navigate a new normal for education In Idaho.

Additionally, the Governor also announced that Idaho will not move out of Stage 4 of the Idaho Rebounds plan for at least two more weeks. The state did not meet the criteria to move out of the current stage.

In Idaho, the cases continue to rise in certain parts of the state. As Idaho has transitioned to local response efforts, DHW will continue to support those who are making these tough decisions.

Update on the work of the Coronavirus Working Group

The Governor’s Coronavirus Working Group continues to meet weekly to tackle COVID-19 issues that are facing the people and healthcare providers of our state. Gov. Brad Little created the Working Group to support the work of Idaho’s public health agencies. There are several subcommittees that report to the Working Group including the Testing Task Force, the Contact Tracing Work Group, and the Coronavirus Long-Term Care Strike Team.

Here are a few updates on those teams, and what they are focused on at this time:

  • Testing Task Force – The Task Force reconvened on July 9. They continue to review the testing strategy, which is evolving as we learn more about testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, the Task Force will focus how to further operationalize the state’s testing plan. The group’s recommendations are available on the Idaho Rebounds website.
  • Work Group – In Idaho, contact tracing is done by the seven autonomous local public health districts. Individuals participate in contact tracing at their discretion – the process is voluntary but important to reduce the spread of disease. As of July 6, there were 2,482 Idahoans who were voluntarily participating in contact tracing (1,323 cases still active and 1,159 cases closed).
  • Long-term care facilities have received guidance on how to respond to even a single positive resident, so proper protection is used for all residents, even if testing is not universally done. Guidance and resources are available online. Additionally, you can find weekly summaries of COVID-19 cases and deaths in long-term care facilities on the coronavirus website. As a reminder: visitation to long-term care facilities including memory care centers in Idaho is up to each facility. In Ada county, those visits were stopped due to the Central District Health order.

Reminder: Coronavirus website updated daily with new information

Accurate and up-to-date information is found on Idaho’s coronavirus website. The Division of Public Health updates the site daily with data related to COVID-19 in Idaho.

If you select the dashboard link below the daily numbers on the home page, you can find:

  • Information on statewide cases
  • Statewide demographics
  • Cases by county and public health district
  • Emergency department visits
  • COVID-19 related deaths
  • Death demographics
  • Laboratory testing update
  • Ventilators and ICU beds usage
  • Hospitalizations

We need your help

Idaho has shifted to a regional or localized approach in the response to COVID-19. Local public health officials and mayors have the authority to put in place local measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. As Idaho transitions from a statewide response to local response efforts, make sure you follow the COVID-19 orders for your city or county. Those orders vary so please contact your local public health district if you have questions.

The spread of COVID-19 is evident by the number of new cases in Idaho each day. I can’t say this enough. We need your help. To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, we all need to work together.

Remember to:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others)
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly

Please have a safe and healthy weekend.

2 thoughts on “Idaho remains in Stage 4 and a new framework is available for schools to open in the fall: Reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

  1. Andrea

    SO MANY QUESTIONS regarding schools:

    1. What, specifically, is the district doing to protect staff against infection?
    2. If a teacher tests positive and/or has been exposed and has to isolate for 14+ days, will those days be deducted from their personal sick leave? Or will the district cover those days?
    3. If a staff member contracts COVID from a student and ends up needing hospitalization, will the district cover the employee’s medical bills?
    4. If a staff member develops long-term health complications due to a school-acquired COVID infection, can they sue the district?
    5. Would catching COVID at school be considered a workplace injury, covered by workman’s comp?
    6. If a teacher tests positive, do all his/her students need to isolate for 14 days? And vice versa- if one of our students tests positive, do the staff also need to isolate?
    7. What happens if a student who tests positive has a sibling who attends school in another building?
    8. If a parent tests positive and still sends his/her kids to school, what will be done?
    9. If a teacher refuses to work due to health concerns, is their job protected? Will they be allowed to deliver instruction remotely?
    10. Are teachers going to be required to offer full in-class AND online instruction? Is 100% of the in-class material to be made available online, and vice versa? If so, how will staff be compensated for their time?
    11. Can individual teachers mandate that students wear masks in their classroom, just as we can say no food, no phones, etc?
    12. Will the district be providing masks for staff and students? Hand sanitizer? Disinfectant sprays and wipes?
    13. What happens when there are not enough subs to cover classes for teachers who are required to stay home?
    14. How do teachers effectively distance themselves from students when there are 25+ students in the classroom?
    15. How do we enforce social distancing between students in our classroom (how do we keep everyone 6 feet apart) when there are 25+ students in one room? What will be done with students who refuse to comply?
    16. What will the procedure be for disinfecting rooms between classes?
    17. What will be done to prevent students from congregating in common spaces such as the cafeteria, hall, gym, restrooms, etc.?

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