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Southwest District Health releases data on COVID within schools

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Southwest District Health releases data on COVID within schools
Posted at 3:52 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 13:29:23-04

BOISE — Schools across the state are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19. Now, teachers have yet another thing to add to their workload: teaching students in quarantine.

"In the past, when students are sick for a day or two, it's much easier to catch them up, but when students are being quarantined for two weeks, that's a big learning gap," said IEA President Layne McInelly.

Already teachers struggle with balancing the workload of in-person and remote learning. Some teachers work hours past the end of the school day to answer questions, give feedback, and catch kids up.

"Creating those lessons so that the students have five days of learning when it's virtual, and face to face, and the teachers have half the students one day, then the other the next, has been an incredible stress," said McInelly.

Students aren't immune to the coronavirus. Southwest District Health's data shows in Canyon County, 11 students and staff are in isolation, and 107 are quarantining. In Owyhee County, 200 students and staff are quarantining.

Earlier this week, Dr. David Peterman shared there have been several cases across schools, but they're believed to originate outside of the classroom.

"At this point, we have very few that can be related to in-classroom context, that is, the positives have more to do with what we believe is the community spread," said Peterman. "When children go back to school, it usually takes somewhere between 2-3 weeks before you see an upsurge."

Idahoans of every age have tested positive for COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. For school kids, ages five to seventeen, 5,232 have tested positive. However, most cases seen are in the typical college age range, 18-29, sitting at 11,192.

It is important to note that no one has died from the coronavirus between the ages of five and 29 in Idaho. It's also important to note that other people within a school system are above that age range and at higher risk, and the possible lifelong effects of the disease are still unknown.

"We have a highly contagious virus that's going to spread throughout a school if we're not cautious, and so we need to be able to take these proper precautions and open schools slowly, so everyone is taken care of, the students, the staff," said McInelly.

McInelly says a slow reopen will lead to the ultimate goal, safely.

"We don't want anyone sick or dying from this virus, so we've got to do this very carefully, but no one wants the kids in the classroom more than their teacher."