COVID-19 cases are climbing in area schools and have forced hundreds of students into quarantine for possible exposure.
At Lake City High School in the Coeur d’Alene School District, 12 students have tested positive and another 200 – or one in seven – are in quarantine after coming into close contact with them.
“We hope that the large number of students who are in quarantine will help stem any in-school transmission that may be happening,” said Scott Maben, director of communications for the district.
The school district opened its buildings last week and resumed full in-person learning.
“This is only effective if students adhere to the requirements of quarantine and refrain from socializing with each other outside of school,” Maben said.
The Mead School District also has been hit hard. As of Monday, the district has reported 10 positive cases in the last two weeks, resulting in 154 people being quarantined.
Like many districts, Mead has divided its in-person learners into cohorts to lessen the chance of COVID transmission.
Of those, 85 of the quarantines came from the “B” cohort at Mead High School and 26 from the “A” cohort at Mt. Spokane High School.
While Mead employs an alternating schedule at the secondary level, its elementary students are back full time. COVID has struck there as well, with 3 positive tests and 30 people in quarantine.
Both districts began the year with distance learning. Last week the two school districts brought this year’s kindergarteners back to buildings.
At Coeur d’Alene, the vast majority of cases were contracted away from school, Maben noted.
However, the return to full in-distance learning has roughly doubled the number of people in close proximity to infected students. It also has affected schools’ ability to enforce social distancing.
Across its district at the beginning of the school year, Coeur d’Alene schools officials reported 14 positive tests and about 130 quarantines during three weeks of hybrid learning from Sept. 14 through Oct 2.
In the first week of full in-person learning, the district added 16 positive tests and 171 new quarantines.
The pace continued during the weekend, with 8 positive cases and 104 people going into quarantine, according to the district’s COVID dashboard.
It’s unclear how other districts in North Idaho are faring. Most don’t post their numbers on an online dashboard. Post Falls and Lakeland, which also have full in-person learning, send their information directly to the Panhandle Health District.
The district confirmed 119 new cases on Tuesday, and there are 23 residents from the five-county region in the hospital with the virus.
Those numbers are then reported by the Idaho Department of Health in a weekly update posted on Fridays. According to the latest report, Post Falls has 7 cases and Lakeland has 10 since school began on Sept. 8. The health department does not mention how many people have been quarantined in those districts.
Central Valley, Coeur d’Alene and Mead were the first of the larger districts to post a dashboard, with Spokane following last week.
Officials at East Valley, West Valley and Cheney said Tuesday that dashboards are under consideration.
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