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Sunday, 3/15/20

Dear TCSD Families,

I would like to start by expressing my appreciation to the families and staff of TCSD #1 for your support and feedback as this worldwide event begins to have impacts on our local community.  This unprecedented situation has created significant anxiety, stress, and confusion for us all. We have been working closely with our local public health experts to understand the facts and greatly appreciate their guidance and support.  


After last night’s announcement of the positive COVID-19 case in Teton County, Idaho I have been carefully reviewing the CDC guidance for schools (available here) that suggests schools not close until there is a case in their buildings.  I have also considered all of the other efforts being taken in our community to “flatten the curve” and have decided to close all TCSD #1 schools starting tomorrow, Monday, March 16th.  Schools will remain closed until at least April 5th.  Decisions about post-spring break closures will depend on how this situation unfolds in the coming weeks and will be communicated to families as soon as we have the necessary information to make those decisions. 


This is a very difficult decision to make and I appreciate the support from our Trustees, Dr. Travis Riddell and Jodie Pond in taking this action. Plans for cloud, or distance classroom learning and other services will be finalized tomorrow, shared with families, and posted on the TCSD #1 website.  Distance education and other services such as meals for students in need will be offered during the unscheduled closure, not during spring break. All TCSD #1 staff will report to work on Monday, March 16, to finalize plans to support learning and services for students during this closure.  


Board of Education Chair, Besty Carlin commented, “It is our opinion that being proactive rather than reactive at a time like this is the best way we can support our community.  Even if it saves one life, it will be worth it. I want to thank Superintendent Chapman and her team for the hours they have put into monitoring the situation and making this difficult decision.  I hope that everyone stays safe and healthy in the coming weeks.”


Dr. Travis Riddell, Teton County Health Officer stated, “In my role as County Health Officer I have been in regular contact with the school district administration.  In this unprecedented situation, I fully support TCSD #1’s steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community.” 

Board of Education Vice Chariman Keith Gingery added, “The school district really appreciates the professionalism and expertise of Dr. Riddell and Jodie Pond, the Director of Teton County Health Department.  They have been invaluable in helping to make an informed decision.”


Please remain vigilant in your prevention efforts and remind your student to: wash your hands frequently, cover your cough or sneeze with a sleeve or tissue and stay home if you are sick. It is incumbent on us all to take these preventative measures to help our community stay healthy, especially those over the age of 60 or with underlying health conditions.  To obtain current local information please visit http://tetoncountywy.gov/163/Health-Dept.  

If you have flu or cold like symptoms please use the following hotlines to determine if you need to seek medical care:

St John's Health Evaluation Hotline 307-739-4898 Option 3
St John's Health Shortness of Breath Hotline 307-739-4898 Option 1
Teton County Public Health Update Hotline 307-732-8628

With a confirmed case of this virus so close to home, we understand families will have heightened concerns about exposure to this virus and that students may experience stress and anxiety.  The National Association of School Psychologists has provided information (available here) for families in speaking with their children about the current outbreak.  Another resource is available through PBS (https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus).


Again, thank you for your support as our district works to provide the educational and support services our students need, while considering the health and wellbeing of our entire community.


Best wishes,


Dr Gillian Chapman

Superintendent of Schools

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