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Local school districts report COVID-19 cases confirmed in students, staff

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IDAHO FALLS — The vast majority of eastern Idaho children returned to school this month — but a question on seemingly everyone’s mind is will students stay in school?

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down Idaho schools early last spring, and there are ongoing concerns that if there are major outbreaks in local schools, they will close again, forcing students into online learning models.

As a result, local schools are doing their best to keep parents informed about infections among staff and students, and to ensure those impacted are being quarantined.

Three of eastern Idaho’s largest districts, Bonneville Joint School District 93, Idaho Falls School District 91 and Madison School District 321, send out messages to parents this week informing them of new cases. They have also emphasized that if a child is sick they should not be sent to school.

The school districts, and both Eastern Idaho Public Health and Southeastern Idaho Public Health, are reminding parents that COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2-14 days after a child’s exposure to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the main symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, but other symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and loss of taste and smell are also symptoms.

Generally, if a student or staff member finds out they are infected, or if they have been exposed to someone who is confirmed as infected, they are asked to quarantine and self-isolate for 14 days from the date of the last contact with the infected person. EIPH guidelines say that even if a child (or a staff member) is subsequently tested as negative, it won’t lessen the overall time students need to isolate.

EastIdahoNews.com reached out to all of the school districts in eastern Idaho to learn about the infections in their schools. Some districts didn’t respond to the request. In all of the districts we contacted, there were plans in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among their student population. The following is data from each of the districts:

Bonneville Joint School District 93:

On Monday, District 93 confirmed it has five reported COVID-19 cases including a third-grade student at Ammon Elementary, a third-grade student at Bridgewater Elementary, an eighth-grade student at Rocky Mountain Middle School and a staff member at Bonneville High School and Iona Elementary School.

All of these individuals were absent from school for more than 48 hours, and there was no evidence of spread, so District 93 schools moved forward normally on Tuesday, a message to parents explained.

“Our greatest responsibility is the safety of our students, staff, and community members,” the message stated. “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your family, especially as we face this challenging situation together.”

Idaho Falls School District 91:

District 91 currently has six students and three staff members who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 and are being quarantined. There are students who haven’t tested positive, but were in close contact with the people who did test positive, and they are now isolating in accordance with guidance from EIPH.

As of Wednesday, the district’s spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne told EastIdahoNews.com about 100 students are in quarantine.

There are two positive cases of the virus from students at Edgemont Elementary School, three cases at Idaho Falls High School and one at Skyline High School, according to a report from the Post Register.

“We appreciate the work and efforts of our students and staff to wear masks and follow the protocols we have in place to try to slow this spread of COVID-19. We really encourage the community as a whole to do its part,” Wimborne told EastIdahoNews.com. “If someone is feeling sick or showing symptoms (they should) stay home until they have checked with their health provider or with EIPH.”

Madison School District 321:

In a news release sent Tuesday afternoon, the school district said to date, Eastern Idaho Public Health has made them aware of three confirmed cases within the district. The three affected individuals were diagnosed early, received medical treatment, and have self-quarantined, which has given the school district’s cleaning crews time to concentrate sanitizing efforts on affected schools/classes, the news release explains.

“Administrators and teachers of those affected schools/classes have been temperature checking and closely monitoring staff and students,” the news release states.

Fremont County Joint School District 215: No positive COVID cases since their first day of school on Sept. 8.

Jefferson Joint School District 251: No positive COVID cases since their first day of school which was Sept. 2.

Teton County School District 401: The district reported one positive COVID case in a student at Driggs Elementary School on Aug. 25. The student had attended the school’s open house the day before and did not return to school for the first day of in-school classes on the 25th. That student has been quarantined and no further information regarding that situation has been provided by the district.

Additionally, another Driggs Elementary student has been quarantined for two weeks after a family member tested positive for COVID. The third-grade Driggs student did not show any symptoms and has not tested positive for COVID. The Teton School District is not counting this student toward its overall COVID count.

Oneida School District 351: The district has one confirmed COVID case in a staff member, who is isolating.

Aberdeen School District 58: The district previously had four COVID cases, but as of Tuesday morning, they have recovered and the superintendent wasn’t aware of any current cases.

Snake River School District 52: Due to potential exposure, and out of an abundance of caution, two staff members are currently not attending school.

Firth School District 59: The district had one COVID-19 confirmed case in a student, but the student has recovered. They currently have no active cases.

Blackfoot School District 55: One student has a confirmed COVID case that is still considered active. They are isolating.

Shelley School District 60: The district currently has no official active COVID cases.

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25: This district was unable to provide numbers prior to publication.

Clark County School District 161: The following district could not be reached for comment.

Sugar-Salem Joint School District 322: The following district could not be reached for comment.

Marsh Valley Joint School District 21: The following district could not be reached for comment.

Statistically, the vast majority of people that catch COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms, and most people recover at home with no problems. But the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to catching the virus and more likely to experience severe or fatal symptoms as a result. Children in Idaho, and across the world have been among the least impacted age group to experience severe symptoms due to COVID-19, according to local, state, national, and international medical officials.

For more information regarding COVID-19 and school districts, visit the district’s website.

More COVID-19 news can be found here.

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