Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare report shows coronavirus cases in schools

This report is the only source that informs Idaho students and parents about the coronavirus numbers within their district.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is now reporting COVID-19 cases for every school across the Gem State. The state published its first weekly summary on Friday.

This summary is the only verified report that shows a list of all cases in every school in Idaho. However, the state will not list online or virtual schools and will not provide data for schools with fewer than 50 students due to privacy concerns.

Schools are listed in alphabetical order and two boxes appear next to each one. One box displays the number of cases identified the previous week while the other shows the cumulative number of cases since the school began the academic year.

“We were really looking for an easy way for public health officials to keep track of what was going on in Idaho schools,” Deputy State Epidemiologist Kathryn Turner said. “We’re pulling together multiple sources to try to come up with as comprehensive of a picture as we possibly can, given that we have sources from different places.”

The report does not show every case reported in an Idaho school because the department gathers this data from multiple sources, including the school district that oversees a certain school, news reports, and public health districts.

For instance, Glenns Ferry School District switched to online learning for two weeks at the end of September due to “multiple” cases within the district. Exact amounts were not given.

In the state’s report, no cases are listed for any of the schools in Glenns Ferry.

“It basically boils down to our ability to get information from different sources. We may miss a media announcement, we may miss a change in case counts on a dashboard,” Turner said. “We wish it could be better and we wish that we didn’t have to go to different sources.”

Some schools display a plus sign next to the number of cases. This means IDHW can confirm a certain number of cases but knows there are more currently unconfirmed. 

“Whatever we can do to assist communities, parents, teachers, staff and leaders and decision-makers, we’re going to try to do,” Turner said. “Nothing has concerned me, I think we’re probably over being surprised with this outbreak.”

IDHW will update the report weekly on Fridays.

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