‘This is serious’: Lake City High experiencing worst COVID outbreak since start of school year

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City High School has the worst in-school transmitted COVID outbreak since the start of the school year, of any school in the district.

Masks have been required for some students at the school, but now every student, staff and visitor must wear them. The district lifted the mask mandate for all schools a little more than a month ago.

“I think when I first heard they were removing the mask mandates, I felt like it was a train-wreck waiting to happen,” said Sharilyn Bean, a mom of Coeur d’Alene Public Schools students.

Bean had hoped that removing masks would go smoothly.

She took her freshman daughter out of Lake City High School and put her in eSchool during winter break. Full-time, in-person learning was too risky for the family, especially since one of her son’s has severe asthma.

There were times during the last few months they thought they could’ve handled it all in-person, but now, not so much.

“I just hope that as they reinstated the mask mandate, that they can finish the year strong,” Bean said.

That’s the hope of the school and district, too.

It’s been a rocky road, with 23 students testing positive since April 26 at that high school. Scott Maben, the communications director for CDA Schools, says they believe 20 of those students caught the virus at school.

“By far, yes, this is the worst outbreak we’ve seen in our school district this year,” he added.

The district had required all students and staff in its schools to wear masks up until a month ago. The school board then decided to drop the mandate. Early last week, the district decided to reinstate masks in three schools: Lake City High, Canfield Middle and Woodland Middle. It was only required for certain grades that were experiencing outbreaks.

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Then, this week, Lake City High required masks for students who were not vaccinated. But, the school saw some unvaccinated kids take advantage of that.

Kids 12 to 15 just became eligible last week. It’s not possible for them to be fully vaccinated yet, as they need another dose and wait two weeks after that.

“This is kind of the wake up call for everyone that this is serious and we need to focus on the education and do the right thing,” Maben said. “Which is, when you have a serious outbreak, you address it with measures such as wearing your masks all the time.”

Not only is the school seeing issues with masks recently, the school district said it found out there were at least two families whose students caught the virus and did not tell the school. The district said those students still attended school.

“People need to recognize what’s at stake,” Maben said.

It’s possible that even with three weeks left of school, the school could go back to hybrid or even fully remote learning. Activities, including graduation, could be canceled, too.

However, the district does not believe that would be the case right now.

“We just want to get through the next three weeks and I’d like to see every single senior who earned that right to walk across that stage, walk,” said Deanne Clifford, the principal of Lake City High.

Clifford says many students and families have been good about all the restrictions and everything they’ve been through this year. She and Maben just hope other students will help keep others safe, too.

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