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State of Idaho leaders urge caution from school districts on closures

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COVID-19 Idaho

During a conference call Sunday with statewide leaders and school leaders around the state, leaders urged districts to exercise caution in closing schools. BoiseDev listened in on the call.

“We recognize you are facing a difficult decision,” Idaho Health & Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said on the call. “We wanted to just make sure and encourage you from a public health standpoint that you consider all factors in this decision.”

Jepsen emphasized CDC guidance that there is “no epidemiological evidence that closing schools stops the spread of diseases.”

He also urged local leaders to consider the impact on healthcare workers.

“Healthcare workers need to go to work, and if their kiddos are at home, it puts a lot of pressure on our healthcare system,” Jepsen told the leaders.

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Jepsen also said that schools may consider closings for short periods for cleaning.

“I encourage all of you on this call to make an informed science-based decision, along with your local health district, based on the conditions in your area,” Gov. Little said.

The Idaho Education Association, the teacher’s union in Idaho, urged leaders to close schools earlier in the day. One leader acknowledges the pressure district superintendents are under.

“I know you are receiving a ton of pressure,” Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Administrator of Public Health for the state said. “I see people spreading campaigns to get you to close your doors.”

Ultimately, Jepsen told leaders the state would support them.

“We will support you in the decision you make,” he said.

“We are with you and working together,” Little said.

After the call, districts started making announcements. West Ada Schools was among the first and said it would stay open tomorrow.

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