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An Idaho Panhandle campus is closing for the month because too many school employees are quarantined from COVID-19

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 11, 2020

The Idaho Panhandle continues to be slammed with record daily COVID-19 cases, leading to one Coeur d’Alene elementary school closing for the rest of the month due to staffing shortages resulting from COVID-19 cases and mandatory quarantine orders.

Couer d’Alene Public Schools reported 62 individuals in their district testing positive for the virus and currently isolating.

Northwest Expedition Academy, an elementary school in the district, announced on Wednesday that the building would be closed and all students would learn at home for the rest of the month due to staffing shortages related to COVID-19 quarantines. Thanksgiving week, there are no classes scheduled there, so the district hopes to reopen the school by Nov. 30.

“As we have experienced a growing number of staff absences this month, we have relied on substitute teachers and have shifted District resources to ensure the school could remain open and functional,” a letter to families at NExA says. “This week, however, we reached critical shortages among teachers and instructional support staff, as well as in other key positions supporting school operations. It became clear that these shortages would compromise our ability to effectively serve students in the building.”

On Wednesday, the Panhandle Health District reported 142 new cases. There are an estimated 2,273 active cases of the virus in the Panhandle.

The Panhandle Health Board rescinded their mask mandate earlier this fall, although the Coeur d’Alene city council followed that action with a mask mandate of its own to attempt to curb the surge in cases. Gov. Brad Little has a press conference scheduled for this Friday to address COVID-19 cases in the state.

Hospitalizations continue to escalate in the Panhandle, as there are currently 54 residents from the five-county region with COVID-19 in hospitals.

Kootenai Health is treating 47 of those 54 residents, with 12 requiring critical care.

Five more Panhandle residents died from the virus, bringing the total to 88 deaths.

The Spokane Regional Health District did not report new COVID-19 case counts on Wednesday due to the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Virus cases are widespread throughout the community. Dozens of students and staff members in Spokane Public Schools are in quarantine, as of last week.

Outbreaks in long-term care facilities continue to add to case counts in Spokane County. As of late last week, there are current outbreaks in 22 long-term care facilities in Spokane, accounting for 326 cases. There are also four adult family homes with 21 cases.

COVID-19 has been surging in the Inland Northwest for weeks, and state officials asked Washington residents on Tuesday to stop socializing and keep Thanksgiving celebrations small and with only immediate households.

If trends don’t change soon, Washington state leaders are poised to make changes to current restrictions .

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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