EMMETT, Idaho — In the last two weeks, 45 students and staff members in the Emmett School District have been in quarantine due to COVID. These numbers likely reflect the community spread occurring in Gem County, which Valor Health reports sits at a 13.7% positivity rate in the last week.
The Emmett School District has been in five-day, face-to-face instruction since September. Superintendent Craig Woods says there are advantages to kids being back in the classroom, but COVID is still a concern.
"We look at close contact; we send them home, our policy is they're quarantined for five days," said Woods. "If they're not showing symptoms and they want to get tested, they can test at that point. If they're negative they can return to school with masks and temperature checks daily."
The Emmett School District partnered with Crush the Curve to train every school nurse to administer COVID tests.
Crush the Curve says they provide the district with testing kits, shipping supplies, and a tech platform to receive results directly from the lab. Crush the Curb Idaho works with 40 schools across the state and had 12 schools send samples to their testing lab Wednesday.
"Each of our nurses went down. They were trained by Crush the Curve staffing, we've been allowed to do the testing, we do the testing at each of our schools, they're then sent to the labs," said Woods.
Governor Little announced the state would reserve more than 500,000 rapid antigen tests for students and schools in Idaho. As of Wednesday, Central District Health says the tests have begun rolling out, and five locations have been selected.
In a statement, CDH told Idaho News 6:
CDH has received a supply of the BINAX Now rapid antigen tests to be utilized among the school population and, as indicated by Dr. Chris Hahn, has been given guidance that these tests can now also be utilized with any of the high-risk groups meeting the criteria set forth by the federal guidelines. We have established partnerships throughout our jurisdiction with health care providers who have received these tests and will be offering them to symptomatic individuals. Established partnerships currently include:
The benefits of school testing are already apparent to the Emmett School District.
"We had a quarantine at one of our elementary [schools], 22 students, I know we had over a majority of them came up, were tested, those results came back within approximately 24 hours," said Woods.
The district is also getting ready for the flu season. As for students in quarantine, teachers upload their lessons online for students who need to stay home.
"If your child is ill, please keep them at home," said Woods. "We'd much rather them stay home, miss a day of school, make up the work. We'll help them with that."
Central District Health also says they received instructions this week on testing that will be available for students and educators at Albertsons. It will be finalized and sent out to school administrators.