K-12 case numbers slowed significantly in 2021, according to final state report

K-12 case numbers tailed off significantly after the new year, according to state reports.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported at least 8,690 K-12 cases over the course of the school year.

But more than half of these cases occurred in 2020, as infection rates fell significantly from January through May.

The dropoff in Health and Welfare numbers coincided with an overall slowdown in coronavirus cases across the state. Case numbers spiked in the general population — and in schools — in the final weeks of 2020.

Health and Welfare reported a record 500 cases involving K-12 students and staff for the week ending Nov. 22. Through all of 2021, case numbers never came close to this peak, and hovered at or around 100 cases per week from February onward.

Health and Welfare began releasing the weekly case counts in October. The reports were imprecise — and the 8,690 figure certainly represents an undercount.

For one thing, Health and Welfare has never released case numbers from schools with fewer than 50 students, citing privacy concerns. In many cases, Health and Welfare provided only a minimum number of coronavirus cases for a school.

While Health and Welfare’s K-12 reports tallied 8,690 K-12 coronavirus cases, the agency’s own daily case counts reveal close to 19,000 cases involving 5- to 17-year-olds. However, that higher tally does date back to March 2020 and the start of the pandemic. (Audrey Dutton of the Idaho Capital Sun reported recently on the discrepancy in these numbers.)

The slowdown in K-12 cases does coincide with the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines. K-12 teachers and staffers were able to begin to receive the vaccine in January, and children ages 12 and older can now receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. However, Idaho’s child vaccination rates trail the national numbers, concerning medical officials, the Idaho Statesman reported Saturday.

Final weekly numbers

With many schools closed for the summer, Idaho reported only 26 new K-12 cases for the week ending June 6.

That compares to 63 cases the preceding week, and represents the lowest weekly tally the state recorded for the year.

The final weekly statewide hotspots:

  • Kimberly High School: Three cases.
  • Kimberly Middle School: Three cases.
  • Lakes Magnet Middle School, Coeur d’Alene: Three cases.

Final school year numbers

High schools made up the vast majority of school hotspots for 2020-21.

Here’s a rundown of every school with at least 50 coronavirus cases.

  • Lake City High School, Coeur d’Alene: 179 cases.
  • Thunder Ridge High School, Idaho Falls: 142 cases.
  • Hillcrest High School, Ammon: 132 cases.
  • Bonneville High School, Idaho Falls: 127 cases.
  • Eagle High School: At least 122 cases.
  • Coeur d’Alene High School: 114 cases.
  • Rocky Mountain High School, Meridian: 106 cases.
  • Rocky Mountain Middle School, Idaho Falls: 105 cases.
  • Mountain View High School, Meridian: 102 cases.
  • Meridian High School: 99 cases.
  • Bishop Kelly High School, Boise: 87 cases.
  • Jerome High School: 83 cases.
  • Lewiston High School: 77 cases.
  • Borah Senior High School, Boise: 76 cases.
  • Centennial High School, Boise: 76 cases.
  • Kuna and Swan Falls high schools: 74 cases.
  • Sandcreek Middle School, Ammon: 74 cases.
  • Boise Senior High School: 68 cases.
  • Nampa High School: At least 66 cases.
  • Post Falls High School: At least 66 cases.
  • Sandpoint High School: 66 cases.
  • Skyview High School, Nampa: 65 cases.
  • Columbia High School, Nampa: At least 64 cases.
  • Timberline High School, Boise: 62 cases.
  • Madison High School, Rexburg: 57 cases.
  • Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy, Pierce: 56 cases.
  • Burley High School: 55 cases.
  • Canfield Middle School, Coeur d’Alene: 54 cases.
  • Riverglen Junior High School, Boise: 54 cases.
  • Highland High School, Pocatello: At least 52 cases.
  • Wood River High School, Hailey: At least 52 cases.
  • Capital High School, Boise: 52 cases.
  • Canyon Ridge High School, Twin Falls: 51 cases.
  • Minico High School, Rupert: 51 cases.
  • Preston High School: 50 cases.
  • Woodland Middle School, Coeur d’Alene: 50 cases.

 

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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