Idaho Falls High School exterior shot

Idaho Falls School District 91 and Bonneville Joint School District 93 are expanding efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The two local school districts have begun expanding efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus before any cases come through Idaho.

Idaho Falls School District 91 announced to parents Thursday morning that they would be postponing the district’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” that was going to be staged beginning Friday night and the performance of the annual 5th Grade Patriotic program scheduled for March 18. Tickets will be refunded if the musical ends up being fully canceled.

District spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said that all other large events that are coming up will be reviewed by the district as the situation with the virus evolves. Some states such as Oregon have begun canceling gatherings with more than 250 people, and District 91 expects to use a similar cutoff when looking at local events.

“We are especially concerned with gatherings that have mixed classes and age groups, but we will be looking at and reviewing everything as this evolves,” Wimborne said.

The announcement comes a day after the board approved an official policy addressing coronavirus or any other widespread infection.

The statement said the board would rely on federal, state and regional health workers in “assessing the risks of transmission and determining how best to protect the health of both students and staff,” as well as working directly with students in “unique or high-risk circumstances.”

As of Thursday afternoon, there were no reported COVID-19 cases in Idaho and 93 people have been tested. It joins Alabama, Alaska, Maine and West Virginia as the only states without a single confirmed case.

{span}{span}Bonneville Joint School District 93 announced plans Wednesday night to send a {span}questionnaire{/span} out to parents to gauge what would happen if the district were forced to close schools. Parents will be asked about the internet access available for students to keep learning online and whether students would be able to stay home during the day in the first place.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}”This is information that we think is good for us to have, whether it’s for this event or some other possibility, prudent planning for the future. I think you can manage the fear and panic and not cause those reactions,” board member Greg Calder said.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme told the board that the district had more than 10,000 recently cleaned computers that could be used by students if needed. A survey to parents will be sent out online and a paper version will be provided early next week to reach the families that would most be affected by a move to online classes.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}”Let’s say that all but 10% have that access. Chances are that the 10% of students that don’t are the 10% that we really need to have,” Woolstenhulme said.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}Wimborne said that District 91 was looking at the possibility as well and that the practicality of online classes varied between grade levels.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}The State Department of Education and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued recommendations in February to help limit the virus’ spread and impact. District leaders were asked to make sure classrooms had adequate trashcans, hand sanitizer, soap and cleaning supplies. They were also asked to separate any sick students or employees from the rest of the school and teach parents and staff about the signs of the disease.{/span}{/span}

{span}{span}Students, employees and other members of the public are advised to:{/span}{/span}

  • Stay home when sick until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a bent arm or tissue and wash hands afterward.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, dry hand with a paper towel, and use the paper towel to turn off the faucet.
  • Try to keep hands away from their nose, mouth, and eyes.

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.