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Coronavirus: Middleton schools to have Friday classes; more cases found at Ada jail

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Posted at 2:45 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 16:45:20-04

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

Instead of relying on a recommendation from Southwest District Health, the Middleton School District announced it will look at cases within the city’s zip code to determine how schools will operate.

The district’s board of trustees unanimously voted Wednesday to use the seven-day rolling average of new cases for the city instead of a Canyon County-wide recommendation, according to a news release from the school district.

The board also voted to add Fridays to the school calendar to make up the 11 school days lost due to the district’s move to delay the first day of classes. Classes will end May 27. This was done after a survey of parents and students showed they preferred this option over pushing the last day of school beyond Memorial Day and into June.

Two weeks ago, Middleton’s zip code was listed in the “red” category, meaning there was substantial community spread. Now, according to the district, Middleton is in the “yellow” category, which would justify holding in-person classes.

Southwest District Health makes its recommendations based on a county-wide scale and not by zip code. Canyon County as a whole is still in the “red” category. Middleton’s claim of being in the “yellow” category is based on a map of new coronavirus cases that only shows new cases. But SWDH takes into account many factors, not just new cases, when making its recommendations.

According to the district, 65% of the school’s population lives within the Middleton zip code, though other students of the district live in nearby Star and Caldwell.

For the board’s next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 31, the school district will determine how it will open for classes on Sept. 8. After that, the board will decide every two weeks, based on the rolling average, how schools will continue to proceed.

As of now, Middleton students and staff are encouraged to wear masks but are not required. The board discussed the need to amend the district’s reopening plan to give teachers with health concerns options in the event their students don’t wear masks in the classroom.

No direct action was taken Wednesday because the matter was not listed as an agenda item, but the board discussed updated wording that would require masks when social distancing cannot be maintained, according to the news release.

ADA COUNTY JAIL REPORTS MORE COVID CASES AMONG INMATES

On Thursday, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office reported 35 new, confirmed coronavirus cases among those in its jail.

In total the jail has 165 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a blog post from the sheriff’s office. The total is up from 130, which was reported by the jail Aug. 12.

However of those 165 positive cases, the jail says 116 of those people have made it through the quarantine period and have been medically cleared. The first case of COVID-19 in the jail was found July 28, leading officials to begin rounds of testing.

Additionally, the ACSO reported that 22 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 across all five bureaus of the sheriff’s office — police services, jail, court services, administrative and emergency communications. As of Thursday, 137 employees have had to quarantine at some point due to concerns over coronavirus exposure.

Every jail inmate is given a mask or face covering and is required to wear it at all times, with the exception of when someone is in their bunk, according to the sheriff’s office. Each jail staff member must go through a coronavirus screening before going into the jail and starting their shift.

IDAHO REPUBLICANS PUSH FOR POLLING STATIONS TO OPEN

The Idaho Republican Party said Friday that it’s not only calling for in-person polling stations to open on Nov. 3, but it’s prepared to help staff them.

COVID-19 has created a shortage in volunteers, making it difficult for county clerks to find workers to man the polls, according to a statement released Friday afternoon, so Idaho Republicans are offering their assistance and inviting democrats from around the state to do the same.

“Idahoans must have access to every option when casting their votes,” Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said in the statement. “This includes absentee voting, early voting, and in-person on Election Day at every precinct polling location across Idaho.”

7 DEATHS, 375 NEW CORONAVIRUS DEATHS REPORTED THURSDAY

Local health officials from Idaho’s seven health districts reported 375 new, confirmed cases of the coronavirus Thursday. The state’s total is now 27,152 as of Thursday evening.

In addition to the new cases, seven coronavirus-related deaths were also reported Thursday. Pairs of deaths were reported each in Canyon (63 total) and Shoshone (9) counties. Single deaths were reported in Bonneville (7), Gem (2) and Kootenai (23). The state’s total for coronavirus-related deaths is now 299.

Eastern Idaho Public Health reported the death in Bonneville County was that of a man in his 70s. The latest demographics from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which did not include the Bonneville County death, showed two of Thursday’s deaths were people in their 60s, while five of the deaths were age 80 or older.

Reporting the most new cases Thursday was Ada County, which reported 113 new cases and brought its overall case count to 9,687.

Several counties reported double-digit new cases Thursday, including Bannock (15 new), Bonneville (48), Canyon (43), Kootenai (16), Latah (16), Nez Perce (19), Payette (12) and Twin Falls (21).