With parents, teachers and fans wondering why the Blaine County School District’s policies were put into place for fall prep sports, the BCSD Board of Trustees aimed at clearing the air Monday night via Zoom for its weekly meeting.
Currently, the BCSD is going off the Harvard Global Health Institute’s guidelines that measure the severity of outbreaks of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has infected millions worldwide.
Blaine County has been using the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI) since testing and information became readily available to the general public, which was in July.
In the conference call with the Board of Trustees, Wood River High School athletic director Kevin Stilling said that the HGHI, which takes a very conservative approach at assessing COVID-19 risk levels, is the metric they used when protocols were first put into place for a competition model.
The HGHI is updated on a 24-hour basis.
In contrast, the South Central Public Health District publishes its data every two weeks, promoting a more mitigated and liberal approach at its numbers.
“Since the South Central Public Health District has put out its information, their numbers aren’t as up to date,” said Stilling. “If something better came along, then we would continue exploring what the best and safest model for our student-athletes would be.”
However, competing school districts outside of Blaine are using the South Central Public Health District metrics, which has created confusion.
Last week, WRHS canceled its home football opener versus Canyon Ridge set for Friday, Aug. 28, due to conflicting risk levels.
Both institutes operate on color basis. HGHI is numbered at daily new cases per 100,000 population, with Red (25-plus) being severe, Orange (10-25) being higher risk, yellow (1-10) at more moderate risk and green (1 case) at lowest risk.
The HGHI currently lists Blaine County in the safe Yellow, whereas the South Central Public Health District lists Blaine safely in the “Minimal Risk” Green. Camas and Lincoln counties are also in the South Central Health Green.
The South Central Public Health District has listed Twin Falls County, where Canyon Ridge is located, in the “Moderate Risk” Yellow class. Other South Central “Moderate Risk” counties are Cassia, Gooding, Jerome and Minidoka.
But according to the HGHI, Twin Falls is in the Orange. And Blaine schools have to date been canceling games with schools in HGHI Orange.
“We continue to monitor the Harvard Global Health Institute and South Central Public Health,” said Stilling. “The Harvard numbers come out in 24 hours and allow for a 24-to-48 hour lag time to make sure their numbers are accurate and up to date. We feel that it is the best model out there still.”
The HGHI is comprised of apolitical scientists, researchers and doctors from around the country to determine and track the progress and heightened sensitivities each county throughout the nation faces.