BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — The Blaine County School District is facing a shortage of both staff and students who are out due to COVID-19.
Last week, out of the 3,316 students in the district, 118 were out with COVID-19, and another 242 were in quarantine for potential exposure.
Out of the 523 staff, 36 were out COVID-19, and another 30 were out because of quarantine. This recent surge had been the highest amount of COVID-19 cases for the district throughout the entire pandemic.
“It’s not been easy," said Jim Foudy, superintendent for the Blaine County School District. "But what an incredible team we have here with everybody being incredibly flexible and adapting and adjusting to cover classes so that we can maintain in-person instruction.”
This week, the district is seeing numbers for students and staff members out with COVID-19 and quarantine drop. 72 students are out with COVID-19, and another 131 are in quarantine while there are 11 staff members out with COVID-19 and an additional 16 in quarantine.
Despite the numbers dropping, the district is still facing challenges with in-person teaching.
“The impact is on instruction," said Foudy. "When a teacher does not have his or her full class of students for a lesson, it’s very difficult to move forward. When a teacher is out, and somebody else steps in, there's nothing like the regular teacher in the room with his or her full class.”
On top of requiring masks in school and encouraging other protocols, the school has taken other additional steps to try and keep everyone that is still in the building safe.
“We are temporarily restricting visitors to the buildings through January 21st," said Foudy. "We’ve limited the number of people in the building to the greatest extent possible. For athletic events, fans are limited to immediate households only right now.”
The district is planning to continue with in-person learning due to how valuable it is for students. Officials are only looking at remote learning as an option in the worst-case scenario.
“When we flip remote, even if you have 100% of your kids on the other side of the screen, the teachers' ability to conduct formative assessments, which are those assessments that we conduct during the forming of learning, are significantly reduced,” said Foudy.