North Idaho schools at mid-level risk of coronavirus transmission

Idaho’s northernmost schools are in a mid-range category of risk for community spread of coronavirus, local health officials say.

Panhandle Health’s first weekly assessment of community spread, released Wednesday, details a “mild to moderate” level of transmission in Kootenai, Benewah, Bonner, Boundary and Shoshone counties.

That designation falls between two other possible risk categories: “no community transmission” and “substantial community transmission.”

The State Department of Education recommends schools in the “mild to moderate” category use a hybrid education model, open school buildings for limited or staggered use, practice physical distancing and sanitation.

The categories are recommendations for the current week. Panhandle Health plans to update assessments of community spread each Thursday.

Some Panhandle-area districts, including Lakeland and Coeur d’Alene, have published tiered reopening plans that correspond to health district risk levels. Most districts have not determined whether back-to-school will mean in-person or distance learning, or some combination of the two.

Wallace School District superintendent Todd Howard recently told parents that the district won’t decide until Aug. 20 which reopening plan  schools will adopt “because the community conditions change so quickly.”

Wallace is scheduled to start school on Aug. 27.

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