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The Idaho Education Association released a statement Sunday morning calling on the state to close all schools for at least three weeks, including spring break, with ongoing evaluations of the situation, to help address the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Education leaders are uniquely positioned to help 'flatten the curve' and stave off a massive health crisis,” Layne McInelly, association president, said in the release. “Recognizing that school buildings often hold more than 250 people, five days a week, we must close our schools immediately for the health of our communities, students and staff.”

Idaho has five confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday evening, including two in Ada County. Government operations, large events and athletic activities have been canceled, scaled back or postponed. 

Idaho's public higher education institutions are moving classes to online only, and many private colleges have announced plans to do the same.

Late last week, Gov. Brad Little said individual school districts can close down if their directors feel it is necessary. Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said school district superintendents had a teleconference Thursday when they discussed ways classes could continue for students in the event shutdowns did occur. A majority of Idaho’s school districts are able to conduct classes online, she said, and the superintendents also discussed options for pick-up points for homework for younger children for whom online classes would not be appropriate.

In the IEA's statement Sunday, McInelly said, “Closing our schools will help prevent this disease from peaking, which would severely compromise our healthcare system and force a triage of life-saving care for patients. Schools are environments where viruses are likely to spread exponentially. The day a case is confirmed in one of our schools is the day after we should have closed the schools. The time to act is now."