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What the 'soft closure' extension means for North Idaho schools

The decision opens the door to re-opening school this year. But that would only happen if certain factors are met and public health leaders deem it safe.

KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho — In North Idaho, some school districts are preparing to be possibly closed for the rest of the year due to coronavirus.

Leaders with the state Board of Education voted on Monday to extend what they are calling a “soft closure” of schools statewide.

Under the decision, the board also opens the door to re-opening schools at some point this year. But that would only happen if certain factors are met and the board has not defined those terms yet.

However, public health officials would have to deem it safe for students to return to school.

The Post Falls School District is currently conducting remote learning. Teachers are reaching out to students and holding remote office hours in an effort to track their progress.

Racheal Kerfot, who has three daughters in the Post Falls School District, says she picked up learning packets for the entire month of April yesterday. Each teacher gave them a schedule, including reading, science and physical education.

The Coeur d’Alene School District began its remote learning plan on Tuesday. It involves teachers providing weekly tasks and remote help for their students.

A district spokesperson told KREM that Coeur d’Alene Schools had anticipated that they might have to keep their building closed for the rest of the year, adding that they recognize the situation is far from ideal.

The district also said the Idaho High School Activities Association is meeting on Wednesday and could make a decision on spring sports and other activities. The state’s current suspension on activities is set to expire in just under two weeks.

The district noted that state rules say each sport requires a certain amount of practices before playing games and that's not happening right now.

For now, parents like Kerfot will have to make sure their kids stay active. But she added that she's appreciated her daughters' teachers reaching out to make sure they're OK.

"It just shows that the teachers really care about their students and they absolutely miss them a lot,” Kerfot said.

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