Teton School District 401 in Teton Valley, Idaho, reported its first case of coronavirus in a student Tuesday evening at the end of the first day of the 2020-21 school year.
In an emailed letter to parents, Driggs Elementary School principal Alan Carter and District Superintendent Monte Woolstenhulme said the COVID-positive student attended the open house at the school on Monday, but did not attend the first day of classes Tuesday.
Woolstenhulme was not able to provide much detail, citing restrictions from Eastern Idaho Public Health regulations. The letter to parents said no contact tracing would be conducted and that the student who is infected would be quarantined for the next 14 days. The agency did not immediately return a call for comment.
“It’s the reality of the situation we are in,” Woolstenhulme added in a follow-up call with the News&Guide. “We want to share the information we have and in a timely manner.”
The press release stated additional cleaning and disinfecting would take place at the school, but did not announce any cancellations of classes.
Eastern Idaho Public Health oversees seven counties in East Idaho, including Teton. The agency currently lists the county in the “moderate” level for COVID-19 cases, the second in a four-tier metric that determines COVID risk levels.
Teton County has two active COVID cases, however Teton Valley Hospital CEO Keith Gnagey has repeatedly stated that testing in the county is insufficient. Gnagey said this evening that Teton Valley Hospital has been preparing for the reopening of the school district in anticipation of increased cases. Comparatively, Teton County, Wyoming, where testing is more robust, has 33 active cases.
“We have prepared staff for additional work and we’re waiting, really, for increased cases,” Gnagey said. “Our plans are in place.”
On Aug. 17, the Teton County, Idaho, School Board approved a plan that opened all of the schools to in-person classes and provided options for online schooling. Woolstenhulme has maintained that compliance with safety measures at all of the schools was key to a successful reopening.
“It’s been positive and there has been a lot of excited students and staff,” Woolstenhulme said of the first day of school. “I have seen great compliance with students and staff with masks and social distancing, and I’m masked up as well. I think people are hopeful about being back in school.”
In this version of the article, the COVID risk level for Teton County, Idaho, has been corrected to "moderate." — Eds.