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Quarantined staff and students in the Emmett School District tested for coronavirus

The district worked with Crush the Curve Idaho to provide a testing site in order to get more data to make better-informed decisions.

EMMETT, Idaho — The Emmett School District wants to crush the COVID-19 curve in Gem County.

The district currently has four confirmed cases of the virus and nine probable cases. More than 130 students are currently quarantined after potential exposure. 

In order to slow the spread of the virus, administrators decided to find out who has the virus and who doesn't.

“We wanted to get some data because we want to make informed decisions,” Superintendent Craig Woods said.

Woods reached out to Crush the Curve this week to bring in a testing site. Quarantined students and staff members were given the chance to get tested for COVID-19.

“They were very receptive of ‘Hey, we can come in and we can set this up right there so all these quarantined students can know [their status] at this point’” he said.

The decision was made after the district shut the high school down last Friday due to COVID-19 concerns. The high school was cleaned and disinfected over the weekend.

Testing will also give the district a clearer picture of who needs to stay home and who could potentially return to school.

“If the data shows us we've got a bunch of positives out of these quarantined students, what it does is it supports what we're doing,” Woods said. “The quarantines and why we're doing it and I think that's amazing.”

Tommy Ahlquist, co-founder of Crush the Curve, told KTVB on Thursday that the organization has been helping a lot of businesses, long-term care facilities, and other school districts like the Wilder School District.

“You have a few positives, you find out who has it, you isolate them and you let everyone else go back to school,” he said. That's the way this should've been.”

Crush the Curve is able to run 300,000 tests a week. Because of this, they are conducting tests in other states like Texas and Tennessee, which is important as testing is key in slowing the curve.

“When you're quarantining an entire school for four cases, that's the value of testing,” he said. “Testing was always the answer to keep things open.”

The testing comes as Southwest District Health just recently moved Gem County from the 'yellow' category to the 'orange' category, meaning community transmission of the virus is increasing.

Right now, the school district is operating in its 'yellow' category. When it comes to Emmett's color categories, their yellow is essentially every other district's ‘green’. Students are in-person every day and masks aren’t required, while still acknowledging the virus is around.

Woods said he will meet with SWDH and the school board on Monday to decide what to do from here.

59 people were tested on Thursday. The results could come back as soon as Friday evening. The tests were not mandatory, but solely an option provided by the district.

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