Bonneville High to close after student tests positive for COVID-19

Bonneville High School will be closed Wednesday and Thursday after one student who was on campus today, Sept. 15, tested positive for COVID-19. District leaders are preparing for more positive cases, Bonneville Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said.

Scott Woolstenhulme

Woolstenhulme said he informed the school board shortly after 3:30 p.m., Tuesday. He closed the Eastern Idaho high school because the district’s policy is to do so if a student is at school within 48 hours of testing positive.

Bonneville leaders expect additional positive tests could be tied to the Tuesday case, so Woolstenhulme decided to close the school for two days to allow time for contact tracing, to  allow additional test results to come in and to send guidance to students who may have been exposed and will need to quarantine.

“We’ve been informed there are a number of students who are symptomatic who are waiting for positive results,” Woolstenhulme told Idaho Education News. “That is really the key reason why we decided to go through Thursday, we are expecting confirmation for more students likely tomorrow.”

In addition to closing Bonneville High, district leaders also suspended all extracurricular activities involving Bonneville students.

The school closure only applies to Bonneville High. Woolstenhulme said the district’s other schools will remain open this week.

On Wednesday, Bonneville teachers and staff will work to identify students who were in close contact with the student who tested positive and notify their families, the district said on a note posted to Facebook.

During the closure, staff will work to disinfect surfaces inside the school and buses.

The district did not identify the student who tested positive, but said he attended class on campus for about three hours  on Tuesday. Woolstenhulme said the student was identified as part of a larger group of students school officials asked to quarantine because of close contact with another positive case. When the student’s mother took him home, he explained he was feeling symptomatic, went to see a family physician and received a rapid response test that came back positive, Woolstenhulme said.

It was too early to tell how many students and staff members may have had close contact with the student on Tuesday but Woolstenhulme said “a typical situation” could result in 20-25 students being asked to quarantine.

Prior to this afternoon, Bonneville had 10 reports of positive COVID-19 cases among students and six among staff, Woolstenhulme said. Since school started Aug. 30, 215 people have been asked to quarantine due to close contact with a positive case in the district. As of this afternoon, 51 were still under quarantine with more expected in the coming days, Woolstenhulme said.

Bonneville isn’t the only Eastern Idaho district grappling with positive COVID-19 tests. The neighboring Idaho Falls School District said it is sticking with in-person instruction after at least 11 students and six staffers tested positive for COVID-19, Idaho Education News reported earlier Tuesday.

During a telephone town hall meeting earlier Tuesday before the positive test was announced, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said Eastern Idaho is now one of the state’s coronavirus hotspots after initially experiencing low case numbers.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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