CDA school board to re-examine risk categories, possibly bringing students in 5 days a week

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – The Coeur d’Alene School Board of Trustees will meet Friday morning to discuss possibly moving the district out of the “orange” category to “yellow.”

The school district operates under color categories to figure out which part of the reopening plan it’s in. The orange category means there is moderate risk; yellow means there is minimal COVID-19 risk in the community.

This would mean students in the district would attend school five days a week, rather than ‘two days at school, three days at home’ hybrid model they’re in right now.

The board met on Monday, looking at data from Kootenai Health and the Panhandle Health District (PHD). Members of the school board decided to keep the district in the moderate risk category, which is orange category in their school plans.

The school district looks at three different metrics, all within a seven day rolling average:

  • New cases per 100,000 people
  • Testing positivity rate
  • Hospitalizations and ICU admissions at Kootenai Health

On Monday, Panhandle Health said there were about 11 cases per 100,000 people. That would put the health district in the yellow, minimal risk category.

PHD said it’s reported positivity rate was at 5.8 percent as of September 18, which was an increase from two weeks prior. However, representatives with PHD in the Monday meeting said their numbers are a little behind compared to Kootenai Health, because the hospital reports its numbers to the state first. PHD waits to get its numbers from the state to report.

Kootenai Health said it’s rolling day average positivity rate was at 8.3 percent on Monday.

As of Thursday afternoon the state report says the incidence rate is at 14.7 per 100,000 people in Kootenai County.

Scott Maben, a spokesperson for the CDA School District said Friday’s meeting will be a continuation of Monday’s discussion. Board members will get more up-to-date numbers to figure out a plan.

It is possible the board will make a vote. If the school district moves to the yellow, minimal risk category, schools would fully open. Masks would still be required, and the schools would try to keep kids social distance as much as they can.

“Even if we were to move from orange to yellow, we still need to take this pandemic seriously and continue to be vigilant about washing our hands frequently, wearing those masks when we’re around other people,” Maben said.

Steve Cook, the superintendent of the CDA School District said students wouldn’t be six feet apart in a classroom, but they’ll still try to spread them out as much as possible.

If the district does bring back all its students in the yellow category, that turnaround would take about a week, Maben said.

Staff would have to bring back all the desks and they would have to reconfigure classrooms.

Nick Lilyquist, the principal of Canfield Middle School, said he’s happy to see students back in their building, even if it is as half capacity.

However, if all their students come back, that means about 700 students will be in the school, rather than the 350 they have now.

“That’ll be our biggest adjustment,” Lilyquist said.

To minimize the spread of COVID-19, lockers are prohibited. Lilyquist says they’ve also split up passing periods so there aren’t as many students in one place.

Even with all the changes, Lilquist says he’s ready to bring all of their students back when the board says it’s fine to do so.

“It really is a sense of normalcy. We’re people people and we got in education because we like kids, it’s great to have them back,” he said.

The school board meeting will be streamed tomorrow at 7 a.m. Find out how to watch that here.