From DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: A COVID-19 task force now in place to support local schools; foster parents open their hearts to Idaho children

Back-to-School Task Force

The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) is co-facilitating a Back-to-School Task Force to promote COVID-19 prevention strategies and provide recommendations based on guidance for K-12 schools for safe learning environments. DHW’s goal is to have Idaho’s children attend school safely and in-person throughout Idaho. Sonja Schriever, from the Division of Public Health, and Marilyn Whitney, from the State Department of Education are co-chairs for this taskforce.

Using Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools, the group will concentrate on developing recommendations and support strategies in the following areas:

  • Vaccination support for individuals 12 years old and above
  • COVID-19 prevention: masks, physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick, and more
  • Screening testing
  • Contact tracing and outbreak mitigation
  • Other areas as needed

In addition to DHW staff, task force members include representatives from the State Department of Education, Governor’s Office, Idaho School Boards Association, public health districts, High School Activities Association, School Nurses Organization of Idaho, Idaho Association of School Administrators, Office of School Safety and Security, Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, charter schools, local school boards, a pediatrician, and Parents and Teachers Associations.

I will give updates on the work of the task force in future blog posts.

Foster parents open their hearts and homes to Idaho’s children

If you have compassion for Idaho’s children and a heart for service, you may want to consider becoming a foster parent. There is always space, and a need, for those who want to be the voice and safety net for children who need a safe, temporary home as their families get the help they need to be reunited.

The primary goal of Idaho’s foster care program is to provide a safe and stable environment for a child who cannot be with his or her parents for due to an immediate safety issue. An environment that feels like home is usually best for a child.

Idaho’s vision is to have foster and foster-to-adopt parents who are a support to families, not a substitute for parents. There is also a need for families who are interested in adoption if, after supporting the child and their family, reunification is unsuccessful. You can find more information on becoming a foster parent on the DHW website.

Foster care plays an important role in caring for vulnerable children in an already-burdened system. It is an essential component of bringing and keeping families together and helping kids to grow up and excel in life regardless of their past.

COVID-19 Update

As you might know, the COVID-19 metrics are heading in the wrong direction. The Delta variant is extremely concerning, and this graphic illustrates why.

 If you haven’t gotten the COVId-19 vaccine, I would encourage you to choose to do so. If you have concerns, please discuss them with a healthcare provider,

If you have chosen to get vaccinated, thank you for being part of the solution to bring this pandemic to an end.

Have a safe and healthy weekend.

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