Students wanting to attend Coeur d’Alene School District’s online program now waitlisted

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho — More people are starting to test positive for COVID-19 in Coeur d’Alene Schools. Since classes started, at least ten people tested positive for the virus.

This comes less than a week before the district brings back students for full-time in-person learning. On Friday, the district announced it is moving to the ‘yellow,’ moderate risk category, moving away from hybrid learning.

The quick switch made Coeur d’Alene mom Angela Reese concerned.

“The reality we’re all living is that our children, we’re the protectors and we’re the guiders,” Reese said.

Parents just want what’s best for their kids. For Reese, a single working mom, she’s doing her best to help her kids with hybrid learning.

But, starting Monday, they’re supposed to go back five days a week.

“I think watching them switch so quickly, the two days a week then wanting to do five days a week, I think that triggered my kids,” she said.

Reese wanted her kids to do online school, but her kids convinced her for the second option.

Her 16-year-old now wants to switch to the full-time distance learning model. Right now, he feels like it’s already tough enough to social distance in school with half the kids present. When all the kids come back Monday, it’ll be even harder.

The school district previously said students will have to social distance when practical.

Reese tried to request for her two kids to learn remotely full-time, but the eSchool is now full. The district says the waitlist opened on September 2.

More than 170 students are on a waitlist. Of that number, 15 students signed up for the waitlist after the district announced it was moving to full-time in-person learning.

Scott Maben, the school district’s communications director, said the district doesn’t have unlimited resources to accommodate all its students.

“When we first established our eSchool at the start of the school year and we assembled the staff for it, we were basically matching the staff with the need we saw,” he said.

Currently, there are more than 1,130 students attending the online program. There are 64 teachers instructing those students out of one of the district’s old school buildings. They didn’t hire any new teachers, they just moved educators around.

Maben says at the time of enrollment, they told families that if they don’t feel comfortable having their kids back in school at all, they should choose the eSchool.

Since school started, Maben said they’ve placed more than 30 students into the eSchool. He said students who get into the program are picked at random.

“Which is a process that we had determined at the start of the school year that would be most fair and equitable. We’re filling those spots as they become available,” he said. “I understand those people might be a little anxious of when they might have that opportunity to come in, but we do see the wait list coming down now.”

Now, Reese is not sure what she’ll do. All they can do now is wait until they can get in, continue letting her kids attend school or switch to a new one.

“There is no right or wrong here, as a family, you just have to decide what’s best for your family and I didn’t want to send them to school originally, but it just wasn’t my decision,” she said.

According to the district’s website, since September 16, at least 10 people have tested positive for the virus, with at least 79 people having to quarantine.

When a person tests positive in a school, Maben says they immediately start contact tracing to find out who may have been exposed through close contact. Those families are then notified personally through an email or text. After they notify families, Maben says a generic letter will go out to other families of students who were in the same class, but were not in close contact.

“I think we expected that we could have students and faculty and other staff who contract COVID-19 this school year. It’s not necessarily form spreading in the school itself, it could be happening outside in the community at large,” he said.

The district will update each positive case on its website here.

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