‘The pandemic is not partisan’: Idaho education leaders urge Idahoans to follow health protocols

BOISE, Idaho — In a joint statement, Idaho education leaders addressed the ongoing pandemic and its impact on students and families around the state.

Leaders from the Idaho State Board of Education, Idaho Public Charter School Commission, Idaho Association of School Administrators and Idaho School Boards Association contributed to the statement.

Education officials recognized that COVID-19 has led to many missed opportunities for thousands of students in the state. They said educators and policymakers are “deeply concerned” about learning loss due to the “disruptive paradigm shift.”

Leaders said their top priority now is to “provide students the opportunity to be in school as much as is safely possible,” and acknowledged that for most students and families, in-person learning is preferred. However, “we can’t fulfill this critical responsibility for our youth unless we can keep our students and educators healthy and safe,” leaders said.

In her visit to Idaho last month, United States Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told leaders that “schools are not ‘super spreaders’.” Dr. Birx explained that the highest concentration of viral spread is happening in communities and in gatherings where people are not following proper health protocols.

“The quickest and most effective way to mitigate this virulent spread is simply to follow the science-based public health protocols of washing hands, maintaining six feet apart and wearing a face mask,” leaders said. “Adult behaviors do impact our ability to operate schools.”

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“Idaho’s confirmed cases are on a perilous trajectory. As education policy leaders, we urge and plead with communities large and small across Idaho to do their part to help our students be able to stay in school.  The pandemic is not partisan.  Enabling our students to go to school, with all the developmental and extracurricular opportunities it has to offer, is not partisan either.  It is a moral and economic imperative.”

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