Reader Quick Hits: Tuesday, April 21

  • Idaho coronavirus update: Bonner County’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases remain at four with no deaths reported. According to the Panhandle Health District, neighboring Kootenai County has 54 lab-confirmed cases and one probable case. Statewide reporting indicates 30 news cases on April 21, bringing the total to 1,766 probable and confirmed cases. Meanwhile, 710 cases have been categorized “recovered” while deaths throughout the Gem State are recorded at 51. Follow the Idaho coronavirus tracking website here.
  • Idaho budget writers are scrambling to assess the effects of COVID-19 on tax revenues. Idaho Press reports that Gov. Brad Little says no tax increases are in the offing. Read the full report here.
  • Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin is undermining Little’s stay-at-home order. That’s according to Lewiston Morning Tribune columnist Marty Trillhaase, who penned an editorial here.
  • Idaho District 1A Republican Rep. Heather Scott is making headlines around the world with her comparison between Gov. Little’s stay-at-home order and Nazi German policies that resulted in the Holocaust. The Times of Israel covered the story, writing, “Far-right extremists have increasingly compared the governors issuing the orders to Adolf Hitler, in a bid to spark chaos and use the crisis to amplify their ideology, according to experts.”
  • NBC News reports that a small group of individuals have been pushing COVID-19 conspiracies and gaining a lot of traction. Read more here.
  • The Lake Pend Oreille School District issued an update April 21, writing that, “No summative grades will be issued for the fourth quarter.” Rather, “Staff will provide feedback for learning on work completed and returned, in order to help students make continued progress” and provide comments along with the asterisk mark (*) to “indicate ‘concept not assessed.'” Furthermore, “Comments will be provided on each report card to show strength and goals areas for reading, writing and mathematics.” Regarding the resumption of normal school functions, LPOSD officials noted that they must follow four criteria, which “cannot be met easily and the health and safety of students, staff, and community will always be considered.” They include:1. No statewide or local social distancing restrictions, including stay-home orders or extensive closures of businesses are in place. a. Exceptions to the soft closure should continue to be considered for staff and student needs, on a case by case basis, as determined at the local level (e.g. small groups of students that can be distanced in a way that meets the social distancing criteria for the purpose of proctoring exams or working one-on-one with special education students, as long as the school district or charter school has sufficient capacity to maintain hygiene and sanitation).2. The peak of the state infection curve has passed, as determined by the State Department of Health and Welfare, and a minimum of 14 days have passed from the identified peak. In those instances where local community spread has occurred, the local infection curve will be evaluated for determining the 14 consecutive days. School districts and charter schools located in counties that have experienced no community spread at the time state restrictions are lifted may have the 14 consecutive days criteria waived with approval by the local public health district.

    3. Approval by the local public health district, after review of school district and charter school cleaning and disinfection protocols.

    4. Re-entry plan approved by the local board of trustees identifying minimum school protocols (see list below).

    a.      Cleaning and disinfection protocols.

    b.      Identify and plan for vulnerable staff and students with a special emphasis on people over   age 60 and those who are medically vulnerable.

    c.      Identify and plan for staff duties which require close contact.

    d.     Absenteeism plan for staff and students whose parents do not feel comfortable returning their student to school and for students who show symptoms of the coronavirus.

    e.     Communications plan for informing parents and staff of the school district and charter school response plans, protocols, and policies to manage the impact of the coronavirus.

    f.     Verify point of contact for each school district and charter school for effective communication and collaboration with the local public health officials.

    g.    Reopening plans are reviewed in consultation with local public health officials.

    These re-entry criteria are subject to change in order to adapt to changing circumstances. Additional criteria will be developed for a fall start of the school year, based on conditions at the time.

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