IDAHO FALLS – Several different factions in Idaho Falls are on opposing sides of District 91’s school re-opening plan. Idaho Falls District 91 will be holding an emergency meeting Thursday night to address the concerns.
The Idaho Falls Education Association has been in opposition of the plan the D91 School Board adopted August 12. The re-opening plan caused an almost immediate outcry from this local teacher’s union.
The IFEA claims in an August 13th Facebook post that they were in favor of “the original plan adopted in July.” This plan, also referred to as the “Yellow Plan”, would have allowed for students to be separated into smaller groups. These groups would the alternate between two in-class days and two days of online learning at home. Fridays would be learning labs or “catch-up” type days.
The IFEA feels the other plan, known as the “Blue Plan”, that was passed last week, “does not take our students or staff safely into consideration.” The “Blue” phase allows all students to attend schools four days a week, reserving Fridays for online learning.
Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United
Another group, called Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United is also opposed to the “Blue” plan. The group has been holding an “Occupy Movement” in front of Idaho Falls High School. This event is to protest the re-opening plan passed August 12th by District 91’s Board of Trustees.
“We are holding the board singularly responsible for this disaster” says Jeremy Plothow, one of the organizers behind the Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United protest. “We will remain out here and active on a regular basis, we are not going home until this is fixed… we expect them [District 91] to call an emergency meeting and rectify this problem, we are committed to staying here until it’s done.”
Support the Blue Plan
Meanwhile, on social media, including the Facebook page Yes to Fall Sports in Idaho, a “Support the Blue Plan” letter is circulating in an effort to collect signatures. The “Support the Blue Plan” letter backs District 91’s “Blue” plan.
The “Support the Blue Plan” letter states “The risks associated with returning to school are outweighed by the benefits.” The letter also says they “do not believe IFEA represents the feelings of the majority of teachers.”
The “Support the Blue Plan” letter says the “recent open letter authored by Mr. Plowthow [from Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United] and others,” that called for the resignation of Board member Paul Haacke, is “inappropriate.”
This letter defends Mr. Haacke, saying, “his viewpoint, while unpopular with a few, reflects the feelings of the majority as reflected in the school board vote to create the “blue” plan as well as in the public comment preceding the vote.”
The letter is being passed around on Facebook, hoping to collect 10,000 online signatures.
District 91 Response
In what is undoubtedly a response to the conflicting ideas on the “Blue” reopening plan, Idaho Falls School District 91 sent out their own letter, along with a press release, announcing an emergency school board meeting tonight. The meeting will be for discussion about modifying the fall 2020 re-opening plan, as well as the possibility of delaying the start of school until September 8th.
Board Chair Lara Hill says “I recognize many things could have been handled differently during the August 12th meeting. It is clear our community is divided. We have received hundreds of emails about the difficult decisions we made at that meeting. Each of those letters has added its own perspective to an ever-evolving, complex, and impossible situation.”
Hill reminds District 91 parents in the letter that the plan is “fluid,” and that “changes can be made at any time.”
The Board will also be holding another meeting on August 31st, after the special legislative session.