John Colter Elementary School

As of Tuesday two Teton County School District No. 1 classes were in quarantine.

A class at Colter and another at Wilson elementary schools were sent home after someone associated with them tested positive for COVID-19, along with a “few individuals at the middle school, but not a whole class,” communications director Charlotte Reynolds said Tuesday. District officials have said they will not share whether cases found in the schools are teachers or students.

“The bottom line is we just have so few cases right now that if I started going into whether this is a teacher or student, etc., it’s clearly likely people will be able to figure out exactly who it is,” Reynolds said.

A class at Munger Mountain Elementary School was given quarantine orders Monday in keeping with Teton County Health Department instructions, Reynolds said, because of a presumed positive case at that school. After the orders were issued, however, the person tested negative, and the class returned to school Tuesday.

Educators are trying to provide as much in-person learning as possible while limiting viral transmission. So kids are in school buildings for two to four days a week, and at the elementary level they’re in pods to limit their social circles.

The district’s Smart Start plan, created in conjunction with the Health Department, mandates quarantines for students and teachers either with exposure to the coronavirus or with COVID-19 symptoms, which can often be similar to seasonal illnesses like the flu.

In a situation like the one at Munger, that could mean students or educators who end up being negative for COVID-19 are quarantined along with their close contacts. It also means that those quarantines can be lifted should the illness turn out to be something different.

In the case of the Munger presumed positive, the quarantines being lifted early “should be something we are celebrating,” Reynolds said.

Another example of how fast things can change is a shift in guidance the district has issued for siblings of quarantined students. Originally, siblings of quarantined students were asked to stay home, too. After discussions with the Health Department the district now asks siblings to stay home only if the quarantined student develops symptoms after being exposed.

Students currently in quarantine have already had practice with virtual education. The Fridays not in the classroom — not to mention an entire spring of distance learning — are meant to prepare students for learning at home during quarantine.

“That was part of the rationale with Friday being virtual for elementary, to help elementary kids specifically, you know, practice to learn how to participate virtually,” Reynolds said. “That then kind of helps them if and when this happens again.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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