Good morning families.
First, I want to say thank you for your patience and understanding as we work together to deal with the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The response of organizations to this virus are unprecedented and we are monitoring this rapidly changing situation very closely.
I want to reassure you that whenever we make decisions, our commitment is to always do what is best for children. Ensuring that our children are safe is essential to keeping that commitment.
I’m a father with five children enrolled in Bonneville School District. Other members of our District Leadership Team also have children who attend our schools. Whenever we make decisions, we see those decisions as parents as well as school leaders. Yesterday, when we made the decision to cancel school travel to highly impacted areas, it meant canceling a trip to Washington DC that my own daughter was looking forward to. When we make the decision to keep schools open, we know that it means sending our own children to those classrooms.
Yesterday, I met with James Corbett, Director of Community Health at Eastern Idaho Public Health. James strongly cautioned us to take appropriate precautions but to not overreact to this situation. Today, Governor Little gave a press conference and underscored that now is not the right time to consider closing schools in Idaho. So today, our custodians and bus drivers are working hard to sanitize the common spaces in our classrooms, student desks, and school bus seats. We will do this again over Spring Break. Teachers will also be provided with supplies to help maintain the cleanliness of desks and Chromebooks.
Later today, I will be meeting with our city mayors and health officials to talk about a community wide planned response to the coronavirus. If we do have to close schools, it will be in cooperation with our public health officials and city governments as part of a community action plan to mitigate the impact of the disease. Yesterday, we sent a survey home to parents asking them to provide key information to help us plan for that situation. If you have not completed the survey yet, will you please take a minute today to do that so that we have the best information possible as we plan for the possibility of prolonged school closures.
At the same time, I know that as parents many of you are concerned about the possibility of infection before an outbreak of the disease occurs in eastern Idaho. As a parent, I understand those concerns. Today, we have developed a plan to allow parents to voluntarily enroll their children in online classes at home. We will send an email home with more information about how you can choose that option you feel that that is the right choice for your children.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt spoke to the country and cautioned that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
I believe that those words ring as true today in the face of this national crisis as they did 80 years ago in the face of the crisis our country faced then. We will continue to exercise caution and take the right steps to ensure the safety of the 13,400 children enrolled in our schools. We will continue to work with our public health officials to make sure we are making the right decisions for our children.
Thank you for the trust that you place in us every day that you send your children to school.