Campus coronavirus roundup, 11.23.20: As Thanksgiving break arrives, numbers are mixed

As coronavirus cases rise on several of Idaho’s college campuses, Thanksgiving break marks a transition in the fall semester.

Boise State University held an early — and virtual — holiday tree lighting ceremony Thursday, a day before students headed home to finish the semester online.

“Even though we will test every student before they return to a classroom in January, we will remain vigilant throughout the spring if we are to remain open,” University of Idaho President C. Scott Green said Friday. Sami Edge/Idaho Education News

In a letter to the campus community Friday, University of Idaho President C. Scott Green lauded the university’s success in keeping face-to-face classes open as planned, yet urged students and staff to stay on guard.

“I suspect the hardest challenges are yet to come, with COVID-19 cases surging throughout the state and the nation, requiring us all to be more vigilant in our interactions over the holidays,” Green wrote.

Here’s the campus roundup.

Increasing rapidly (more than 100 percent)

University of Idaho. For the second consecutive week, U of I case numbers more than doubled — but still remained far lower than October’s peak outbreaks. The U of I reported 66 cases for the seven-day period ending Nov. 13, up from 25 cases the preceding week.

For the week, 3.8 percent of campus tests were positive, up from 2.5 percent the previous week.


Boise State University. As face-to-face instruction wrapped up Friday, Boise State reported a record number of weekly cases. The 121 new cases, up from 96 cases the previous week, marks a third successive weekly increase.

Nearly 5.9 percent of tests came back positive, compared to 4.7 percent the previous week.

The bulk of the new cases — 88 in all — involved students living off campus. Fourteen cases involved students living on campus, and 19 involved employees.

One positive trend: just six of Boise State’s isolation beds were occupied, down from 30 the previous week.

Idaho State University. Cases increased for the second consecutive week, nearing a high for the semester. ISU reported 63 probable and confirmed cases for a seven-day period ending Tuesday, compared to 51 the previous week. Fifty of the week’s new cases involve students, and 56 occurred on the Pocatello campus.

Several clusters are under investigation: Two in the College of Technology, each involving two cases; one in the College of Pharmacy, involving two cases; one in the College of Arts and Letters, involving two cases; one in campus housing, involving three cases; and one in the College of Health, involving two cases.

College of Western Idaho. Seventeen people have self-reported coronavirus cases in the past week, up from nine the previous week. In all, 28 students and staff have self-reported cases so far in November, and 77 since the beginning of September.

North Idaho College. Twenty-four students and six employees have self-reported a positive test last week. NIC counted 27 self-reported cases the preceding week. Since July, 147 students and employees have reported a positive test.

College of Southern Idaho. Twenty-three new self-reported cases in a seven-day period ending Thursday, up from 22 the previous week. Nineteen of the new cases involved students, and 20 were linked to CSI’s main campus in Twin Falls.

College of Eastern Idaho. Twenty-three students and four employees self-reported cases last week, up from 17 total cases reported the previous week. Since Aug. 24, the college has reported a total of 100 cases involving students and employees.


Northwest Nazarene University. Case numbers decreased after a one-week stay-in-place directive. NNU reported 31 cases in a seven-day period ending Thursday, down from 35 cases the preceding week. Twenty-three of the new cases involved students living on campus. In all, NNU is reporting 45 active cases.

NNU lifted its stay-in-place directive Wednesday, resuming classroom instruction.

Lewis-Clark State College. Sixteen active cases reported Friday, down from 19 the previous week. The college has reported 122 confirmed cases since Aug. 24. Two students are in isolation, unchanged from the previous week.

BYU-Idaho. A significant decrease in overall cases: BYU-Idaho on Sunday reported 62 active student cases and seven active employee cases, compared to 85 active cases and five active employee cases on Nov. 12.

The College of Idaho. Ten new positive tests reported in the past week, compared to 13 the previous week. As of Thursday, C of I has reported 77 positive COVID-19 tests for the semester. Four people are in campus isolation housing, up from two from the previous week. Six people are isolating off-campus, down from 12 the preceding week.

 Check Kevin Richert’s blog each Friday for a weekly roundup of statewide coronavirus trends.


Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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