The Idaho State Board of Education (SBE) has ordered a four week closure to all public schools in the state, and area schools are preparing to continue student education remotely.

Public schools will shut their doors through April 20.

The decisions came Monday after SBE officials met via teleconference to discuss the matter. Officials say that the shutdown could last even longer depending on how well the spread of the coronavirus is contained in Idaho and surrounding areas. This will disrupt the area school district's plans of reviewing the situation on April 1 and reopening on April 6. The local districts will now have to wait and see what the SBE says about the closures, but some districts do plan to carry on with lesson plans starting on April 6.

The St. Maries School District announced that it will develop remote learning packets that will be delivered via bus route weekly. Buses will deliver and pick up the packets that are intended to help students retain and apply skills.

St. Maries School District Superintendent Alica Holthaus said they will keep parents informed on the ever-changing situation.

“We originally had used emergency days off that we planned to make up but now the closures are moving into a way that we won't be able to do that,” Ms. Holthaus said. “We are trying to develop remote learning operations. We recognize that online learning is not equitable to all students in the area who do not have access to WiFi.”

“Things are changing everyday and we are trying to be sure to get accurate information out to parents, we have to tackle this as a team,” she continued.

Parents are encouraged to call the district office to arrange the weekly drop-off.

Plummer-Worley Superintendent Judi Sharrett said that her district is also in the middle of planning what they will do to continue to deliver education to the district's students.

“We are working on developing a system for remote learning and work packets,” Ms. Sharrett said. “We have been having conversations about setting up hot spots at the schools where students can come download lesson packets and take them home to work on.”

“I'm glad that the state board has come out with strong direction,” she added. “I am fortunate to have a great team of principals and teachers who are coming up with ways to work through all of this.”

The Kootenai School District did not announced whether they would start remote learning after spring break, but Superintendent Dennis Kachelmier said that the Kootenai School District plans to continue their grab-and-go meals for the additional two weeks that the district was ordered to be closed.

The St. Maries and Plummer-Worley School Districts also plan to continue their grab-and-go meals after a hiatus over spring break.

Though the SBE left many items unresolved on Monday, it said that it wants to drop the Idaho Standards Achievement Test in English language arts, science and math. ISATs are part of the state's accountability plan with the federal government, but the feds said that they will allow states to seek testing waivers.

They also discussed having high school juniors skip out on the requirement to take the college-entrance exam in order to graduate, and high school seniors will not have to turn in senior projects.

The SBE also wants to waiver some transportation guidelines so that school districts can continue to use buses for services like delivering meals to area children.

For more information contact the Kootenai School District at 208-689-3631, the St. Maries School District at 208-245-2579 and the Plummer-Worley School District at 208-686-1621.

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