Expectations stay high despite low year

Payette High School as seen in this Aug. 2020 photo. Superintendents from local school districts say expectations remain high for students despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.

WESTERN TREASURE VALLEY — COVID-19 forced school systems around the world to rethink how they deliver education to their students and while students still have not returned to classrooms in many parts of the country, many Idaho students have been back for the whole first semester of the 2019-2020 school year.

To understand how students in Payette and Washington counties have coped, the newspaper reached out to local school districts in a Dec. 17 email. Following is a sample of their responses.

Payette

Even though school started a day late for students in the Payette School District, the district has otherwise remained unfazed in remaining open for in-person learning. Achievement standards have also remained unfazed by the ongoing pandemic, according to Superintendent Robin Gilbert.

“We have not lowered our achievement expectations for students,” wrote Gilbert. “We have set bold learning goals for them and schools are in line to meet those goals with students.”

As of Dec. 21, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reported that just over 30 students have tested positive for COVID. 19. Even when the virus or parental concerns keep students out of the classroom, Gilbert reiterated that resources remain available to keep their education on track.

“If they are quarantined they have access to remote learning to keep them on track and current with assignments. Attendance is credited to them if they are logging in and completing the work.”

Weiser

Going farther north, Weiser School District Superintendent Wade Wilson said that he could not speak for any widespread use of sliding grading scales. He did, however, say that other accommodations have had to be made.

“Teachers have had to adjust the amount and type of content that they are able to teach as a result of the pandemic,” said Wilson in a Dec. 17 email. “We still have expectations for student learning and grading reflects the adjustment in content and delivery that has occurred.”

The district began the school year with a hybrid learning model, with two days a week in-person and the remainder of the week learning at home. Since late September, the district has returned to “almost” full in-person learning, with distance learning taking place on Wednesdays to facilitate deep cleaning.

“We typically fog classrooms on Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings, as well as spend extra time cleaning restrooms, surfaces, desks, and other frequently touched surfaces,” said Wilson in a Dec. 29 follow-up email.

Even with the planning that has gone into classes this school year, Wilson admitted that not all of his Wolverines have been able to keep up with the changes.

“As you can guess, some students have struggled to keep pace with all teaching and learning, especially on our at-home learning days,” Wilson added. “Others, however, have continued to stay engaged and have continued to thrive in our system, even with the changes to instruction that have occurred.”

Comment requests to Fruitland and New Plymouth school districts were unreturned as of press time.

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