Health and Welfare: K-12 schools account for more than 4,800 coronavirus cases

At least 4,800 coronavirus cases can be traced to Idaho’s K-12 schools.

That’s the bottom line from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which has tallied K-12 cases since the start of the current school year.

That cumulative total — at least 4,818 cases, involving students, teachers and staff — is significantly higher than the weekly totals Health and Welfare has released since October. Using those weekly reports, Idaho Education News in December pegged the number of K-12 cases at slightly more than 3,300, based on the totals from the weekly Health and Welfare reports.

Why the discrepancy?

The weekly reports are a snapshot, Health and Welfare told Idaho Education News Monday. Not every school reports its case numbers weekly; some report to the state on a monthly basis, while others have no set reporting schedule. When Health and Welfare gets these late-arriving numbers, the agency adds them to the running total for the school year.

The running total is more accurate, Health and Welfare says — but also much higher.

And even that larger 4,818-case figure is a conservative estimate. Health and Welfare does not release any case numbers from schools with fewer than 50 students, citing privacy concerns. And for some schools, Health and Welfare releases only a minimum number of coronavirus cases.

Despite these limitations, the Health and Welfare reports do identify some coronavirus school hotspots. More than a dozen schools — all high schools — reported at least 50 cases so far this academic year:

  • Lake City High School, Coeur d’Alene: 111 cases.
  • Mountain View High School, Meridian: 82 cases.
  • Meridian High School: 74 cases.
  • Thunder Ridge High School, Idaho Falls: 73 cases.
  • Rocky Mountain High School, Meridian: 72 cases.
  • Eagle High School: At least 70 cases.
  • Coeur d’Alene High School: 67 cases.
  • Bonneville High School, Idaho Falls: At least 64 cases.
  • Hillcrest High School, Ammon: At least 64 cases.
  • Jerome High School: 58 cases.
  • Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Pierce: 56 cases.
  • Burley High School: 52 cases.
  • Kuna and Swan Falls high schools: 51 cases.
  • Madison High School, Rexburg: 51 cases.

Not surprisingly, K-12 case numbers slowed to a trickle during the holiday season, with schools on break.

Health and Welfare reported just 49 K-12 cases for the seven-day period ending Dec. 27, the lowest figure this school year. And Health and Welfare didn’t compile case numbers over the past week. Cases from the holiday break will appear in the agency’s Jan. 11 report.

As of Monday, the state and its health districts have reported 142,654 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases.


Kevin Richert

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 "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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