About 14% of Lake City High School students in quarantine; half to return by Tuesday

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — As of Wednesday, about 14 percent of students at Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene are in quarantine.

Since the district brought back its students in-person, full time last Monday, more people are testing positive for the virus with even more close contacts in quarantine.

As a mom, Sharilyn Bean already has enough to deal with. Being a mom is a balancing act and the pandemic only adds more pressure.

Between switching from hybrid learning to learning about more cases of COVID-19 in schools, she told 4 News Now there’s a lot of anxiety in their home.

She wants to make sure her kids are happy, but she also wants to make sure her family is safe.

“We’ve got asthma, diabetes and a senior all in the household,” she said. “So, it was concerning sending kids back to school because we know there’s a high risk for them to be in contact with the virus.”

Ultimately, she decided her three youngest would learn from home and her two oldest would attend high school in-person.

“Every day when they come home, we send them off to shower and get cleaned and put on clean clothes and everything to try and help prevent the spread as much as possible,” Bean said.

Since October 5, when all students returned for school full-time, 13 people at Lake City High tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, the district said 212 students were in quarantine. That number dropped to 206 on Wednesday. Nearly half of those students are set to return by Tuesday.

RELATED: Nearly 15 percent of Lake City High School students quarantined

Spokesperson Scott Maben said, to their knowledge, there has been only one school-related COVID-19 transmission district-wide. He says a majority of people in their district is contracting COVID-19  from activities they are doing outside of school.

With nearly 1,500 students attending school, it’s tough for students to maintain social distance from each other. The district continues to encourage students to maintain social distancing whenever practical and is requiring them to wear masks at school.

When students are put in quarantine, they can’t attend school. However, they still are doing their assignments given to them through their program Schoology. The district says it allows students to still be engaged with their teachers and their assignments.

Maben says the district works with Panhandle Health about the possibility of closing down schools if the virus causes major absenteeism with students and staff.

There are many factors that go into deciding to close a school down. They have to look at the number of students and staff quarantined, the overall absence of students, for any reason, and the number of instructors working to teach students.

Lake City High Principal Deanna Clifford issued a statement to families regarding the high number of students in quarantine:

“While we do have a large number of students who are in quarantine, our students are trying hard to follow the guidelines and protocols here at school, including wearing masks and social distancing when practical. In fact, I commented on our school announcements today just how proud I am of students for continuing to follow our protocols.

“We are so grateful that school is in session and that our activities are continuing. We want to keep it this way. Kids are so happy to be in school and we are doing everything we can to continue to provide a safe environment for students and staff and keep our school open.

“Students, much like the rest of our nation, are feeling a sense of mask fatigue. We do run into the occasional student who is wearing their mask improperly or taking a quick unauthorized mask break. We address those situations as we come across them. We understand that masks are uncomfortable, although I have seen some pretty cool fashion statements on kids faces lately.

“I also would like to comment on the sincere appreciation we feel for our Timberwolf families. Parents are reaching out by email and phone to clarify information about their children and are absolutely kind and understanding toward me and our team. These kind words and support for our teachers and staff have been nothing short of amazing. We appreciate the heart-felt concern and empathy. We are all in this together and will arrive on the other side stronger than ever!”

Maben says when the district is notified of a student or staff who tested positive for the virus, contact tracing starts immediately.

Schools take a look at the student’s schedule, talk with their teachers and coaches and review where students have been sitting. The district says their contact tracers take a look at the student’s movements in the last week to determine who was in close contact.

If a student is determined to be a close contact, they could be removed from class during this process and their parents would be contacted to pick them up to begin the quarantine process.

Like any other moms, Jennifer Kiracofe knew the virus would make it’s way into schools eventually.

“It’s just to be expected because kids are going to be around other kids and that’s going to happen,” she said.

While she’s afraid that her kids could get sick, she chooses to be in the present. She’s happy her kids to get have some sense of normalcy being back at school.

“You have to be grateful for the health they do have right now and just try and stay focused on the things that are positive right now,” she told 4 News Now.

The school district is in close contact with the Panhandle Health District. If and when the district has to move risk categories, families will be notified immediately. Then, it’ll take about a week for changes to take effect.

“There’s been a few times, especially as I’m seeing the numbers rise, I’m wondering if it’s time to pull the kids out and trying to balance when do I make that call,” Bean said. “Part of me really hopes they do go back to the hybrid system soon so that it’s not me being the bad guy and hopefully they can try and stay open as long as possible.”

RELATED: Tracking COVID-19 in your child’s school district