Coeur d’Alene Public Schools have announced all schools will close Monday, March 16, through April 6, following the announcement of Spokane County’s first novel coronavirus cases.
“We are taking this unprecedented action to help slow the continuing spread of novel coronavirus in our region,” the district said in a news release.
Spokane County officials announced three cases Saturday morning, and Idaho confirmed it has four new cases, bringing the number to five. None of those confirmed cases were from the Idaho Panhandle.
Coeur d’Alene Public Schools said it was also aware of multiple employees and students, in addition to their family members, who are awaiting test results for COVID-19.
One of those people was recently in contact with someone who lives outside Idaho and has tested positive for COVID-19. The contact did not take place in any school facilities, the district said.
The district closure means the district will lose two weeks of instruction followed by its planned spring break. All extracurricular activities will be suspended through April 6 and parent-teacher conferences will be rescheduled. The Panhandle Health District supported the closure, according to the district.
Earlier in the week, schools in the district canceled large events and gatherings as a precaution, in addition to ramping up cleaning efforts, as public health officials advised schools not to close.
The district said it will make school meals, including breakfast and lunch, available for pickup each weekday starting Wednesday but has not solidified arrangements.
The district also plans to address access to child care for younger students whose guardians work in health care and emergency services or who are in vulnerable populations. The School PLUS child care program will not be available on Monday and Tuesday while the district focuses on cleaning schools to be designated child care sites. The program is expected to resume Wednesday for enrolled families.
“We know this extended closure will be difficult for many families and have an impact on our community,” the district said in a statement.
The district will evaluate what the closure means for the school calendar with the Idaho Department of Education and focus on ensuring seniors can graduate on time.
“As we face these very complex and difficult tasks ahead of us, we ask for your willingness to help identify and resolve issues, and we ask for your partnership and your empathy as we work to serve our community in this time of need,” the district said in a statement.
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