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How school districts across the Treasure Valley track COVID-19 cases in the classroom

The Nampa School District told KTVB on Thursday that the district will work with Southwest District Health to report their numbers.

BOISE, Idaho — With students across the Treasure Valley returning to the classroom, school districts in the Gem State are taking different approaches to tracking COVID-19 cases in schools.

The Nampa School District told KTVB on Thursday that the district will work with Southwest District Health to report their numbers. The communications director for the district, Kathleen Tuck, said students in Nampa went back to school last week.

As of Thursday, the district doesn't have a dashboard with COVID-19 case data available. However, one will likely be up sometime next week. Tuck added once its up, parents will be able to see the number of coronavirus cases reported in each school and those numbers will include students and staff.

Internally, the Nampa School District will track that data separately.

However, data on the number of students and staff who were exposed to COVID-19 won't be tracked.

"We are not quarantining students this year, so basically if you have covid you will be quarantined so if you have covid you have to be out so many days and beyond that not come back until you're fever-free and symptom-free, but as far as close contacts parents will know if their child has been exposed to something in the classroom but then it's the parent's choice what to do," Tuck told KTVB.

The Nampa School District will have an optional face mask policy for the 2021 school year. 

On Tuesday, the school district reported eight COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday at 11 a.m., there were 38 cases in students and six in staff members.

The Gem State's largest school district, West Ada, enacted a face mask mandate for students and staff but allowed parents the option to opt out their children.

In order to track COVID-19, the West Ada School District launched its own dashboard to track the data.

"When a nurse gets a notification of a positive case, they go ahead and enters it and we see that pretty automatically," Char Jackson, the spokesperson for West Ada, said.

Jackson said it's important to note that the positive cases don't paint the full picture.

"They don't tell whether or not it was transmitted at school or how many quarantines may have turned into positives and things like that, so we want to be sure that we're being mindful to that data as well," she said.

Students in the Boise School District returned to classrooms last week and the district also has a dashboard displaying the number of students quarantining. However, the district said the data for the week of school is a bit misleading.

"A lot of the quarantines we reported were students who were not able to report to school the first day because they were already quarantined, they didn't contract the virus while in school, they got it during the summer break," Nick Smith, Human Resources Director for BSD, told KTVB.

The district updates the number of cases in real-time, as much as possible. But the quarantine numbers are updated every Friday morning.

"We want people to understand that we are committed to making sure that we are as transparent as we possibly can be and that we are following the CDH and CDC guidance when it comes to quarantining and we're aggressive in that regard because our commitment to the public is to make sure that we continue to maintain in person learning for our students," Dan Hollar, a spokesperson for BSD said.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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