BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — At the beginning of January, the Blaine County School District was facing a very serious surge in COVID-19 cases throughout all their schools. Fortunately, those numbers are decreasing. However, there is still concern among school officials as they know they're not out of woods just yet.
Back when the surge was at its highest, the school district had over 300 students out sick and in quarantine, as well as 60 staff members out. That number is now just over 150 students and 26 staff members out.
“We are so pleased to see this trend," said Jim Foudy, the superintendent for the Blaine County School District. "The fact that we were able to essentially weather the storm and get through that surge without having to close schools, we’re counting our blessings right now.”
Although Blaine County schools have been fortunate in not being forced to close their doors at any point, the district is facing some challenges, primarily staffing.
“We still have staff covering classrooms and programs shifting in order to keep classrooms open," said Foudy. "I still have administrators covering classrooms on a daily basis.”
Since many teachers and other staff members have had to adapt and take on multiple responsibilities, school officials are working to keep their morale high.
“People get into public education with a service mindset," said Foudy. "Our team is saying, 'How can I help? What can I cover to make this work? You see that in every building where people are stepping up to make it happen.”
At this point in time, the Blaine County School District's primary focus is to keep staff and students safe. On top of an already existing mask mandate, the district has extended a policy that was supposed to expire on January 21, with no visitors inside schools.
“Those protocols have been extended through this Friday, February 4th," said Foudy. "That’s the most recent extension, was two more weeks, in this case through February 4th, and we are going to reassess the situation.”