Classes were canceled Monday at Idaho Science and Technology Charter School in Blackfoot after around a third of the school’s teachers were exposed to a positive COVID case over the weekend.
On the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, 10 students and two staff members at Shoshone-Bannock Junior/Senior High School have been asked to self quarantine at home until Oct. 1 due to contact with a COVID-infected student.
Idaho Science and Technology Charter School announced on its Facebook page Sunday night that school would be canceled Monday because of the number of potential exposures. The school later confirmed that at least a third of the school’s 25 faculty members had been in contact with a positive case during an event Friday.
School director Tami Dortch said that the exposure came from someone who had attended a teacher event to celebrate the start of a new grading period. Dortch said that two teachers and one student have tested positive and will be quarantined, while test results from three more people were still being looked at by Southeast Idaho Public Health.
The school’s board of directors will hold a special meeting tonight to decide how to proceed with classes for the rest of the week and may meet again later this week to respond to changes made by the public health office.
“We will see what the board says about the rest of the week, but we’re also watching the number of positive cases go up in the area and are watching to see how SIPH reacts,” Dortch said.
Bingham County is one of six counties in the region that Southeast Idaho Public Health has placed into the “moderate risk” category for the virus. Blackfoot School District made the switch to an alternating-days approach because of that designation, while the Idaho Science and Technology school board voted last week to continue with daily in-person classes.
The K-8 school has 339 students enrolled, according to the most recent numbers from the State Department of Education.
In Fort Hall, a student who last attended Shoshone-Bannock Junior/Senior High School on Sept. 17 was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. The student is currently isolating at home, and 10 students and two staff members are self-isolating due to contact with him.
Sho-Ban administrators have contacted the parents and guardians of those individuals who were in close contact with the student during class and shared recommended protocol. If your student has been exposed, a Tribal contact tracer will be in contact with you to assist in further medical attention and guidance, according to a Tribal press release.
The school has a safety plan requiring students to wear masks during the day, but the exposure involving staff and students who are self-quarantining occurred due to close contact with the sick student at an after-school sporting event where masks were not required, according to the press release
The school plans to thoroughly sanitize the property, according to the press release.
More than 300 students and 38 staff members are currently in isolation in Idaho Falls School District 91 because of possible close contact with coronavirus cases over the last two weeks.
District 91 has begun publishing a regular overview of virus cases and quarantines within the school district on its website. The online report will be regularly updated as cases are confirmed by Eastern Idaho Public Health and the district identifies anyone who needs to isolate.
Five new cases among students were identified by the school district on Monday. Those new cases push the total virus cases from staff and students in District 91 to 35 confirmed cases since the beginning of the school year. So far, none of the cases or quarantines have been widespread enough for a whole school to be closed.
College of Eastern Idaho posted its own weekly update of coronavirus exposures Friday. Potential exposures were reported on the college campus on Sept. 4, 14 and 15 from individuals in the school library and three of the six buildings. The college’s posted information did not specify how many total cases there had been during that time or whether the cases came from students, employees or faculty members.
Idaho State University has reported 27 COVID-19 cases among its students and staff so far this month.
Nationally, the death toll from coronavirus topped 200,000 on Tuesday — by far the highest in the world.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher, eight months after the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation, with its state-of-the-art laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medical supplies.
The number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until 2021.
“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on CNN.
The bleak milestone was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.