Elementary school closes because of COVID-19 and other illnesses
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VICTOR — Illness among staff and students at Victor Elementary School has closed its doors for three days.
The closure comes as seven staff members and more than 60 students have been absent, according to Teton School District 451 Superintendent Monte R. Woolstenhulme. He says some of the absences are in relation to COVID-19 and corresponding quarantine protocols, while others are associated with other sicknesses.
The school has kindergarten through third-grade students and will be closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Woolstenhulme said students and staff are expected to return to the school Monday. While the school is closed, students are receiving learning support at home.
Teton School District has recently made headlines as Woolstenhulme announced schools are not bound by the city of Victor’s mask mandate. Mayor Will Frohlich’s mandate says people in the city must wear masks in public settings.
“The decision on how to best balance the need to effectively educate students and to protect their health and safety while in school is best left to the school board and its administrators,” Woolstenhulme wrote in a letter to Frohlich. “The balancing of education and student health is much different, in both kind and degree, than the balancing of such activities as shopping or dining out with public health.”
Victor city Attorney Herb Heimerl disagreed and said in a letter to the city he believes the mandate is lawful and that the school district must comply. Heimerl cited Idaho law that says the mayor has jurisdiction over “all places within the corporate limits of the city,” when it comes to public health ordinances.
As of Tuesday evening, Eastern Idaho Public Health reports 30 active COVID-19 cases or 25.8 per 10,000 people in Teton County. EIPH reports 49% of the population is fully vaccinated in the health district against the coronavirus.
Victor Elementary is not the only school in eastern Idaho to face closure. The Shoshone Bannock Tribes announced Tuesday that due to multiple students and staff testing positive for COVID-19, Chief Taghee Elementary will be closed for students until Monday.