PAYETTE — As students in the Western Treasure Valley test the waters of the 2020-21 school year, continued concerns about COVID-19 have seen some students step back out. In an email on Sept. 2, Payette School District Superintendent Robin Gilbert confirmed a tip sent to the newspaper that one classroom of second-grade students at Payette Primary School is on quarantine as of press time.
Gilbert said the move was made in conjunction with Southwest District Health and with plans in place to keep the learning process going.
“Our teachers are prepared to move online as necessary, so students in the classroom did not lose any days of education,” wrote Gilbert. “This is a great example of how the school is working with medical and epidemiology specialist in the fluidity of our leveled plan.”
Gilbert praised educators at Payette Primary for their response to the situation, including switching the class to remote learning the next day.
“The four day school week is also beneficial when abiding by CDC quarantine guidelines,” said Gilbert.
With the Board of Trustees implementing a mask requirement for students and staff across the District as of Aug. 28, Gilbert said health officials are satisfied further incidents can be prevented.
“Now that face coverings are required, Southwest District Health believes this is less likely to happen in the future. Families need to know to isolate family members from others during quarantine to prevent possible exposure to others should they develop symptoms.”
Response elsewhere in the District
In response to a tip about teachers possibly being quarantined at McCain Middle School, principal Richard Hale told the newspaper in an email on Sept. 1 there were two teachers from that school on quarantine as of press time.
He further discussed strategies the school uses in the event of a teacher absence.
“When teachers are gone we utilize a pool of well trained substitutes,” said Hale. “In some cases teachers can teach remotely with a para-professional in the room.”
With Payette High School football players returning to school this week after a two-week quarantine, principal Jacob Williams could not confirm why some had backed out of playing for the Pirates.
The newspaper received a tip that all of the seniors on the team left, but Williams did not confirm that.
“I can tell you that the few athletes who stopped playing after showing an initial interest in football did so early in the process,” wrote Williams in an email Sept. 1. “Those athletes left prior to our first positive case of COVID-19. I suspect their decision was fueled by another factor or factors, but again, cannot be certain what those factors may have been.”
Williams said his teams are otherwise staying strong despite COVID-19.
“From a student safety standpoint, we continue to follow the recommendations of Southwest District Health,” he wrote. “From a football perspective, we have approached the situation with the same resiliency we bring to all challenges. The team has remained intact and positive throughout the quarantine process. They have returned, determined to push through this adversity and have a successful season. After couple of years with low turnout, we are excited to have the number of athletes necessary to have two teams. The effort our athletes and coaches are putting in has us confident that we are a program on the rise.”