LPOSD secures fall reentry plan

by ALY DE ANGELUS
Staff Writer | August 12, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — After many weeks of drafting guidelines for Lake Pend Oreille School District, the board of trustees unanimously approved its COVID-19 protocol and reentry plan Tuesday evening.

The district will begin the 2020-2021 school year on Sept. 8 with a blended learning model, the yellow level, according to Panhandle Health District recommendations and the Idaho State Board of Education framework published in July.

No one in attendance spoke for or against the plan during the public forum, although Superintendent Tom Albertson said he had received over 50 emails and numerous calls since the July 28 meeting.

“So, they had an opportunity to communicate to me that way,” he said. “Maybe their questions got answered.”

Albertson said he feels the plan is clear, detailed and easily accessible on the LPOSD website, which contributed to his success in adopting the plan.

Unlike the Idaho State Board of Education’s framework, LPOSD’s reentry plan is using a four-tiered education model, measuring the level of COVID-19 community transmission and rationalizing the level of face-to-face or remote learning. The plan includes a red, orange, yellow and green plan, both the yellow and orange models calling for a mix of remote and in-person learning.

“I just hope that we can stay in our blended learning model,” Albertson said. “I truly feel that our students need our teachers and our teachers are so important in our students’ lives.”

Panhandle Health District recommended three changes to the document before the board of trustees adopted the plan on Aug. 11. Recommendations include updating the emergency crisis plan and detailing communication protocol for the COVID-19 pandemic, along with ensuring regular ventilation checks.

In addition to the emergency crisis and ventilation updates, water quality will also be routinely monitored.

Bonner County is one of the five northern Idaho counties that are slotted to open with a category two plan. Albertson said the board of trustees have the option to follow PHD guidance or vote for dismissal if they deem it necessary.

“If there is a change one way or another, the school board would make a decision, PHD is only guidance,” he said. The board will review updated information on COVID-19 in two weeks at the next board meeting and consider the option to revote.

Along with approval of the COVID-19 reentry plan, a resolution was approved at Tuesday’s meeting to allow leniency on board policies while novel coronavirus cases are still prevalent in the community. Some examples of overriding board policies could include shortening class time or teacher preparation time for school efficiency or safety during the pandemic.

“If one of our board policies is in conflict with what we have in our reentry plan, this would allow for our reopening plan to occur rather than going through and making every adjustment that comes along,” Albertson said.

Approval of this resolution is not indefinite and will only apply for the 2020-2021 school year.

This resolution must be lifted or amended by the board if the pandemic clears before the school year ends.

Althoughin-person learning is not guranteed this year, Albertson is excited for the possibility of school returning in the fall. He hopes to see information on specific building plans by the end of the week.

“I am nervous and I am also super excited,” Albertson said. “I have that excitement that I have had for 33 years, there’s school starting, but then I am nervous, too.”

“I hope we can keep everybody healthy and we have very minimal disruptions,” Albertson said.

More information on the schools adopted reentry plan and activities plan can be found on LPOSD’s website.

Aly De Angelus can be reached by email at adeangelus@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @AlyDailyBee.