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Coronavirus: Emmett schools to move to all in-person classes; Custer Co. mandates masks

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Posted at 2:31 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 16:31:00-04

This article was originally published by Jacob Scholl in the Idaho Statesman.

Students in the Emmett School District will be back in classrooms full time after the district’s Board of Trustees approved a plan to move the district into the “yellow” category of reopening.

The district — which started its school year on Monday, Aug. 31 with a hybrid schedule of in-person and online classes — will move to the fully in-person class schedule starting Tuesday, Sept. 9, according to a news release from the district.

Superintendent Craig Woods told the school board that he spoke with Southwest District Health, and he said “there was no concern moving to the yellow category, even with the one confirmed case in the school district,” according to the news release.

In the same release, the school district also announced that a district employee had tested positive for the coronavirus. The employee had limited contact with other employees before their symptoms started to show.

Along with the fully in-person class schedule, schools will continue the increased guidance and precautions implemented for the hybrid schedule, including measures for social distancing. However, the district said in a news release that “masks will not be required in most cases.”

“The Emmett School District takes this very seriously, and closely monitors safety precautions in regard to COVID-19,” Woods said in the news release. “The individual will remain at home for the recommended period for quarantine.”

The school district also adopted new guidelines for athletic attendance, which would go into effect on Friday. This would mean there will be no attendance limits for Emmett High School’s football game on Friday against Weiser High School.

CUSTER COUNTY MASK ORDER PASSED, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY

Custer County became the latest Idaho county to enact a mask mandate.

Members of the Eastern Idaho Public Health board voted unanimously Thursday morning to pass a mandate requiring everyone in the county to wear face coverings to help stop the spread of COVID-19, according to the Idaho Falls Post Register. One member of the board, Custer County Commissioner Wayne Butts, abstained from the vote.

People in Custer County must wear masks in public when socially distancing is not possible. The mandate will be in effect until further notice, according to the order.

Those who violate the mask mandate could be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a possible fine of up to $300 and up to six months in jail.

Custer County is the latest county in eastern Idaho to have a mask mandate, as other areas with such mandates include Bonneville, Jefferson and Teton counties. Ada County also has a mask mandate.

NAMPA SCHOOLS TO STAY ONLINE AT LEAST UNTIL SEPT. 21

The Nampa School Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to extend online school at least until Sept. 21, as Canyon County remains in a red zone health alert as determined by Southwest District Health.

The vote was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed after Tuesday’s meeting stretched past four hours. Wednesday’s meeting, too, lasted more than four hours.

During a public commentary period Tuesday, many called on the board to transition from online schooling to in-person classes as soon as possible.

Trustees also voted Wednesday to allow sports teams to begin practicing on Thursday, with games to begin next week, provided the district superintendent investigates how to screen Nampa athletes for COVID-19. The vote came after student-athletes rallied outside the Nampa School District building, asking trustees to allow them to play.

321 NEW COVID CASES REPORTED WEDNESDAY; 4 NEW DEATHS

Four new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Idaho on Wednesday.

Single deaths were reported in Ada, Bannock, Canyon and Minidoka counties, as the state’s death total grew to 374. As of Wednesday, Idaho’s fatality rate among cases was around 1.13%.

The Bannock County death was that of a woman in her 70s, according to Southeastern Idaho Public Health. Demographic data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare show that the three other deaths were people age 80 or older and were two men and a woman.

Health districts around Idaho reported a total of 321 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Wednesday. The state’s 14-day moving average now sits at 303.9 cases per day, and the average cases over the past week is now 299. The numbers show signs of decline cases, as both averages are now at their lowest since early July.

Hospitalization numbers are also down, as IDHW reported Wednesday that there are 171 people hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide, with 47 people in intensive care. Those numbers are down from an Aug. 3 peak of 242 patients.

Bingham County reported the most cases Wednesday, as the eastern Idaho county reported 79 new cases and increased its total cases to 561. Just behind was Ada County, which reported 60 cases and increased its total to 10,571.

Multiple counties reported double-digit new cases on Wednesday, including Canyon (41 new), Bonneville (26), Kootenai (20), Bannock (18), Nez Perce (10) and Payette (10).

Since the outbreak began, 30,536 coronavirus cases have been reported in the state.

According to IDHW, 258,963 coronavirus tests have been taken around Idaho, and about 11.8% of those tests have returned positive. The state also added 38 “probable” cases to its total, which is now 2,437.

Idaho Statesman intern Julia Frankel contributed to this report.