PAYETTE – Students of Payette High School who are struggling with distance learning have another option, as the school will again be opening its doors for students. 

In a social media post run on Tuesday morning, Payette High School announced that students “will have the option to come to campus to receive help or clarification on assignments.”

According to the school’s re-entry plan, they will be allowing students (and the occasional parent) can receive additional support from a teacher.

The soft closure reopening will maintain social distancing measures, including specialized seating that has been set up, featuring plexiglass shields between teachers and students. The workstations are all 6 feet apart, are in large common areas and are sanitized between meetings.

The school is also planning “make-shift study halls” in the high school’s gymnasium and in the middle school commons during the month of May. 

The school will be prohibiting medically vulnerable staff members (or those that have direct care for medically vulnerable persons) from working directly with students. All staff members working with students will be expected to wear masks and gloves and will observe social distancing guidelines.

Students will also be screened prior to entry of the building, including a questionnaire to see if they are at risk, and a temperature scan will be conducted.

The decision to reopen the school was approved by the Payette School District Board of Trustees on Monday. Board Chairman Adam Rynearson said the decision was made as a way to make sure that the students are all able to succeed through distance learning.

“We decided to re-open for students who need face-to-face help because everyone’s home learning environment and learning needs are different,” Rynearson said. “In public education we have to consider every student. This won’t be what students are used to at first but it is an important first step to return to normal.”

In order to help with social distancing, the school is asking that students set up meetings with teachers ahead of time so there is space. 

The reopening follows re-entry criteria that was released by the Idaho State Board of Education on Monday. The criteria aligns with Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s Idaho Rebound’s Plan that was launched, which sets sights on a late June reopening of the whole state after four stages. 

The re-entry criteria for schools includes the school get the blessing from both its local board of trustees and the local public health district. 

Some Idaho private schools reopened completely on Monday, with Nampa Christian School being one of the first to reopen its doors to students.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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