UPDATE, 8 a.m. Sept. 15: The quarantine on students at Munger Mountain Elementary School has been lifted. Communications director Charlotte Reynolds said the person in the school who had been presumed to be COVID-19-positive tested negative for the coronavirus.
Because of that negative test result all close contacts who were quarantined are able to return to school.
ORIGINAL STORY, 7:30 p.m., Sept 14: As of late Sunday night, three classes across Teton County’s public schools are in quarantine due to exposure to the coronavirus.
One class each from Colter, Munger Mountain and Wilson elementary schools has been sent home. District communications director Charlotte Reynolds declined to say whether the exposures came from a teacher or student in the classrooms.
Because the orders come from the Teton County Health Department, Reynolds didn’t know the specific dates the Colter and Munger Mountain quarantines would end. The Wilson class would be able to go back to school Friday, but because that’s a virtual education day, the students and teacher won’t be back in the classroom until Sept. 21.
The Colter class was notified of its exposure Thursday, and the Munger class was last in school that day as well, so their quarantines are expected to last through this week and next. Students and teachers combined, 55 people are affected, but school still goes on for them.
“They’ve all transitioned to virtual with their teacher,” Reynolds said.
Students at Jackson Hole Middle School also learned Monday that they needed to quarantine, but Reynolds didn’t know how many when she talked to the Jackson Hole Daily because the district had just found out in the afternoon.
Even though the affected elementary school students comprise roughly 2% of the district’s student body, the increasing number of kids and teachers quarantined invites questions about how high that number needs to climb before schools switch to distance learning. Administrators and school board members have talked about that for months, but they still don’t have concrete thresholds.
Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell has told them that it is nearly impossible to set those targets because of uncertainty around the virus and the multitude of factors that affect the pandemic.
Even so, Reynolds said, she understands parents and educators wish there were clear benchmarks.
“I think we would all really like that,” she said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to really obtain what those metrics would be on the local level, the state level or the national level.”
This version of the article has been modified to clarify that 55 students are about 2% of the student population of Teton County School District. — Eds.