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D91 School Board calls special meeting for Thursday


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Members of the group “Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United” rallied outside Idaho Falls School District 91 offices Wednesday. | Eric Grossarth,

IDAHO FALLS — After a tremendous amount of back and forth about how Idaho Falls School District 91 should begin its school year, the school board has called another special meeting for this Thursday to discuss modifying the calendar and delaying the start of classes until Sept. 8.

“I recognize many things could have been handled differently during the Aug. 12 meeting,” D91 Board Chair Lara Hill said in a news release. “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.”

RELATED: District 91 School Board votes on how to begin school this fall

Last Wednesday, the board voted 3-2 to put aside its previous reopening plan, and allow students to attend in-person classes Monday through Thursday, and learn from home on Friday. Since the vote, groups and individuals have voiced their opinions, both for and against the new plan. The previous reopening plan corresponded with Eastern Idaho Public Health’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan and would have started the school year with groups of students alternating two days in-class and two days online learning at home. Friday would have remained a catchup day.

A newly created advocacy group “Teachers, Parents, and Patrons United” hosted an “Occupy Rally” Wednesday outside the district office that was supported by the Idaho Falls Education Association. The group opposes the new plan, because they feel they were not given the opportunity to provide input.

RELATED: Teacher’s union and advocacy group criticize D91 reopening plan

IFEA sent a press release advertising their own rally scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. outside the district office. The president of the Idaho Education Association, Layne McInelly, will speak along with the president of the Idaho Falls chapter, Angela Gillman.

“The district school board has shelved the reopening plan developed by district officials in collaboration with educators, parents, patrons, and medical professionals, essentially disregarding those voices. Educators remain concerned about their safety, and that of their students under the revised plan,” the release says.

The Thursday evening board meeting will not include any public input and will be streamed through the district’s website.

“As I have had time to reflect, there are new unknowns at play,” Hill said. “There is the extraordinary special legislative session slated for next week, recent changes to EIPH’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan and changing enrollment numbers because of the overwhelming response to the D91Online Academy. These items lend themselves to additional decision making.”

If approved, changes to the school calendar would not impact athletic schedules.