BOISE, Idaho — Since August, 50 schools in Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties that have implemented some form of in-person learning have had positive cases of COVID-19, according to Central District Health program manager Brandon Atkins.
"These aren't necessarily outbreaks. They do have several sports teams that have been impacted, they do have several teachers and staff that it has impacted across the board," Atkins said. "We haven't reached a critical point where it is really impacting numbers or schools, but we are certainly seeing it happening."
One school overseen by CDH was forced to temporarily close due to COVID-19.
Despite this, Boise School District will begin easing students back into the classroom on Tuesday. Students in preschool through second grade will return to the classroom in groups to allow for social distancing.
The district is starting with younger students because they have the greatest academic need to learn in the classroom, according to district spokesperson Dan Holler.
"A lot of them at that pre-k through second grade level are learning their literary skills and research shows it is better they are in an in-person environment," Holler said. "We plan to do that safely and get them back to in-person learning safely and help them when it comes to their education."
As long as the district remains in the yellow category, meaning community transmission is minimal, grades three through six will be phased in on October 6. After that, grades seven through 12 will return October 19.
"Their classroom settings are completely enclosed," Atkins added. "These kids aren't leaving another class or switching between seven different courses like junior high and high school students do."
The goal is for all BSD students to return to in-person learning five days a week on November 9, but Atkins believes that date might be a little further down the road.
"It doesn't look like Ada County will be anywhere near green in the foreseeable future," he said. "But we may be able to maintain in yellow depending what our cases look like."
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