The Emmett Board of Trustees, with a vote of 4-1, accepted Superintendent Craig Woods recommendation that face coverings be required for all students and staff within the district, starting November 30th and ending December 18th. The decision was made at a special board meeting, Monday, Nov. 16.
Trustee Mike Garner strongly opposed the Superintendent’s recommendation, and voted no. Trustee Mike Kimball made the motion and it was seconded by Trustee Chair Hoss White. Trustees Ross Walker and Ronnie Weekes voted in favor, but reluctantly.
Students who have documented health issues may be exempt.
Students who don’t want to follow the new requirement may enroll in the Emmett Remote Academy program.
Trustees also asked for two items to be researched and considered at a special board meeting set for November 30th:
1. Students and staff in close contact with a confirmed case and confirmed as wearing a mask during this contact will not be subjected to the mandatory quarantine as long the person is not showing symptoms of COVID.
2. Students and staff who have had COVID would be exempted from the face covering requirement.
Woods backed his presentation with a one-page recommendation, along with information regarding masks and a letter from superintendents in the SIC.
He also reviewed the results of recent surveys of staff, students and parents.
On the question: Should our classrooms remain open for face-to-face learning?
• 68 percent of 954 parents said Yes.
• 42 percent of 195 staff members said Yes.
• 66 percent of 400 secondary students said Yes.
On the question: If schools could remain in full face-to-face learning, every day (as COVID cases are rising sharply), would you support a school mandate for all staff and students to wear masks?
• 46 percent of 954 parents said Yes.
• 64 percent of 195 staff members said Yes.
• 40 percent of 400 secondary students said Yes.
The surveys, designed to give the administration and trustees some guidance, clearly show that the majority believe students should remain in classrooms for face-to-face learning.
“We’ve said all along that our No. 1 goal has been to keep all students in the classrooms for face-to-face learning while keeping students and staff safe,” Woods said.
Requiring face coverings is one way to help preserve that ability, Woods explained.
“I personally feel the Emmett School District must do our part to help slow the spread of the virus and take some of the strain off the health care facilities in Gem County and the Treasure Valley. The Emmett School District can continue to be a model of face-to-face instruction and provide a safe environment for teaching while also showing that we care for our greater community by requiring face coverings for a set period of time.”
Listen to the recorded meeting to hear the discussion.
Numbers for the past two weeks (November 3-November 16) in the Emmett School District are:
• Quarantined: 145
• Suspected: 53
• Probable: 1
• Confirmed: 26
Valor Health officials provided the following numbers reflecting COVID patients:
Valor Health Current 30-day rolling positivity rate is: 24.42%. It was 19.44% last week.
7-day rate: from 11/5-11/12 was 26.99% positive
School District Testing
The Emmett School District nurses are also trained to test students and staff for COVID and submit samples to Crush the Curve organization for results. Since October 1, the district has tested approximately 150 students and staff members.
Statewide Rollback to Stage 2
Governor Brad Little moved Idaho back into Stage 2, because of the spikes in COVID statistics. That did not change the status of schools.
Gem County information provided by SWDH as of Nov.16:
• Current daily incidence rate: Averaged over the last two weeks (11/1-11/14), for Gem County is 5.95% (was 3.63% the prior week) per 10,000 people.
• The 30-day rate of daily new cases per 10,000 is 4.25, up from 2.83
• Current positive rate? The current positivity rate (11/1-11/7) for Gem County is 15.38%, up from last week’s rate of 11.82%.
• New cases in the past 30 days? 231 (154 last week)
• School-aged students (5-19) in the past 30 days? 44 (up from 23 Note: These numbers include residential congregate living quarters and college students who call Gem County home.
• SWDH moved Gem County to the Orange category on November 10. SWDH will review data and announce Wednesday if there is a category change. It may shift to Red.
• Deaths: Gem County has recorded a total of 630 confirmed and probable COVID cases and 6 deaths since March.
• Quarantined: People who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID case.
• Confirmed: People who have been tested positive for COVID.
• Probables: People who had direct contact with someone who tested positive AND has COVID symptoms.
• Suspected: Students or staff who are ill and have been tested and are awaiting results, or who may be tested.