Idaho’s colleges and universities logged more than 5,400 coronavirus cases during a turbulent fall semester.
All 11 public and private colleges and universities managed to maintain some form of face-to-face learning during the semester — but not without problems:
- The University of Idaho allowed professors to switch to online learning in October, as university officials sought to curb outbreaks in off-campus Greek housing.
- Also in October, BYU-Idaho threatened to move classes online in the face of rising cases in the national coronavirus hotspot of Madison County — and amidst reports that some students were intentionally exposing themselves to COVID-19 in an attempt to sell plasma containing coronavirus antibodies. BYU-Idaho reported more than 1,750 cases for the semester, nearly a third of all cases across the state’s campuses.
- Northwest Nazarene University issued a one-week stay-at-home order in November, as it sought to curb outbreaks on the Nampa campus.
- Boise State University stayed open through the fall semester — but university Chief of Staff Alicia Estey said administrators had “candid discussions” about closing face-to-face classes.
With campuses closing for the holidays, the fall tally is all but final. The colleges and universities reported 5,432 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, according to an Idaho Education News review of the institutions’ websites and coronavirus dashboards.
Here’s the semester recap (and quick weekly updates):
BYU-Idaho. Semester totals: 1,758 reported cases, involving slightly more than 8 percent of the campus community.
Case numbers peaked in October: On Oct. 21 alone, BYU-Idaho reported 85 new cases, a one-day high.
Case numbers fell sharply last week. BYU-Idaho Sunday reported 11 active student cases and one active case involving an employee, compared to a total of 66 active cases on Dec. 10.
Boise State University. Semester totals: 1,060 cases since Aug. 15, representing more than 7 percent of the campus community.
More than two-thirds of these cases — 692 in all — involved students living off campus. Meanwhile, 257 cases involved residential students, and 111 cases involved faculty or staff.
Case numbers crested just before Thanksgiving break: Boise State reported 121 positive tests for the week ending Nov. 19.
Last week’s numbers represented another decrease, as fall semester wrapped up online: 28 cases for the week ending Thursday, down from 41 cases the previous week.
University of Idaho. Semester totals: 732 positive test results.
Test numbers peaked in early October, stemming from outbreaks in the Greek community: the U of I reported 116 positive test results from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2.
The U of I reported another weekly decrease: 12 cases for the seven-day period ending Dec. 11, down from 14 cases the preceding week.
Spring classes will begin Jan. 13 and the U of I will reopen its on-campus testing lab on Jan. 6.
Idaho State University. Semester totals: 706 cases, 553 involving students, 153 faculty and staff.
The weekly peak occurred from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, when Idaho State reported 69 cases.
ISU reported another weekly decrease 21 cases for the seven-day period ending Tuesday, compared to 38 cases the previous week.
College of Southern Idaho. Semester totals: 252 total cases, 200 involving students, 52 involving staff or faculty.
CSI reported only one new case last week, involving a student on the Twin Falls campus.
North Idaho College. Semester totals: 230 self-reported cases since July, 181 involving students, 49 involving staff.
Six students and three employees self-reported a positive test last week, compared to a total of 24 self-reported cases the previous week.
Northwest Nazarene University. Semester totals: 205 diagnosed and probable cases.
Case numbers peaked in early November, with 14 cases reported on Nov. 9 alone. The following day, the university issued its stay-in-place order, moving all classes online.
NNU reported three cases last week, one involving a resident student and two involving employees, compared to 11 cases the previous week.
Lewis-Clark State College. Semester totals: 152 cases, 126 involving students, 26 involving faculty and staff.
Lewis-Clark reported five active cases Friday, compared to seven cases the previous week.
College of Eastern Idaho. Semester totals: 146 self-reported cases, 103 involving students, 43 involving employees.
CEI reported one student case and four staff cases last week, compared to a total of 10 cases the previous week.
College of Western Idaho. Semester totals: 107 confirmed cases and four probable cases.
CWI reported three new confirmed cases in the past week.
The College of Idaho. Semester totals: 84 cases.
The C of I reported one new positive test Friday, and one person isolated in off-campus housing.
Check Kevin Richert’s blog each Friday for a weekly roundup of statewide coronavirus trends.