Less than a week after Blaine County schools welcomed students and teachers back into classrooms, two staff members at Wood River High School have tested positive for COVID-19, School District officials reported this week.
An email sent to parents on Monday by Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes announced that cases of COVID-19 “involving” staff at the high school had been confirmed, but did not say whether the staff members themselves had tested positive for the virus.
On Tuesday, Holmes told the Idaho Mountain Express that two staff members had received positive COVID-19 test results the previous day. The staff members had “already been off work for several days,” Holmes told the Express.
In an email sent to all BCSD staff later Tuesday afternoon, Holmes said that a Wood River High School student also tested positive for COVID-19.
The district is “working with South Central Public Health District, our school nurses, administrators, and local physicians to identify any additional impacts” of the virus, Holmes said in her email to parents. “If the District and South Central Public Health District determine that either a student or staff meet the definition of close contact with a positive case, they will be individually notified with additional information on health and safety measures.”
Mary Claire Griffin, a 62-year old substitute teacher with the Blaine County School District, told the Mountain Express on Tuesday that she had received five calls so far asking her to work as a substitute on Tuesday and in the future.
“To me it feels like walking into a COVID petri dish,” Griffin said. “Not worth the health risk at my age."
Sept. 8 marked the first day back in the classroom for half of all public-school students in Blaine County, with the other half learning from home on Tuesday and returning to the classroom Wednesday.
The Blaine County School District began the school year with a hybrid learning plan, which means half of all students are in the classroom on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students work online on the days they aren’t physically in school, and all students work from home on Fridays.
As of Monday evening, 595 confirmed and 20 probable cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Blaine County, according to the South Central Public Health District. Ten confirmed cases and one probable case were still being monitored by Health District officials.
Staff writer Tony Evans contributed reporting.