After two weeks of full in-person instruction, Fruitland High School will be moving to online learning following a spike in COVID-19 cases The school will be starting online classes on Friday.
In a letter posted to the school district website on Thursday morning, Superintendent Lyle Bayley announced the closure, which only affects the high school.
“The school district has been closely monitoring the number of positive COVID cases associate with our high school the past week,” the letter reads. “We have seen an increase in COVID cases the last two days that has moved us to an area that we need to make a change in school instructional delivery for a period of time in hopes that our level of COVID spread will decrease.”
For Fruitland School District, moving to the red means that all high-schoolers will be returning to at-home instruction. School lunches will be available for pick-up at designated sites, and all extracurriculars are put on hold, including athletics.
According to Fruitland High School Principal Marci Haro, the school will reevaluate its COVID-19 numbers on Wednesday. Multiple requests for numbers of positive cases of students have not yet been returned.
“For the safety of students and staff, we are going to red,” Haro said.
She said if the superintendent and the board feel the numbers are safer, the school will return to the yellow, which means a hybrid model of instruction.
Homecoming is currently scheduled for next week. Haro said the events of homecoming week have been pushed back a couple of days, in case the school is able to reopen. There is no dance scheduled for homecoming week. Haro said the dance has already been put on hold until it is safer to have it.
During its Sept. 14 meeting, the Fruitland School District Board of Trustees voted to have the district move its education plan from the hybrid “yellow” model to the “green” in-person model.
For the first weeks of the 2020-21 school year, Fruitland School District operated in a hybrid model, with half of the student body attending school at once and the other half taking school online, alternating days in an A-B format.
Starting on Sept. 17, the district moved to a fully in-person model with a four-day school week (Wednesdays being a day for cleaning the school while students take classes online).
According to data from Southwest District Health, the City of Fruitland has had a spike in positive COVID-19 cases since Sept. 11. On that day, the seven-day average of daily confirmed and probably cases was 2.1. On Wednesday, that number was 5.0, over double the amount from just over two weeks previous, and close to the city’s highest-ever count (5.5 on Sept. 1).
In the same timeframe, other area cities with in-school classes are seeing decreases in cases. On Sept. 11, Payette had a seven-day average of daily cases of 3.1. That number was 3.13 on Thursday.
On Sept. 8, New Plymouth had a seven day average of 1.5 (there is no date point for Sept. 11), and that number was 1.1 on Thursday.
Weiser has seen more fluctuating numbers. On Sept. 12, the seven-day average was 2.75. on Thursday, the number was 3.0, but has been as high as 3.4 and as low as 1.6 since Sept. 12.
Payette County remains the last county in Idaho in the “red” health alert level by a health district.