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Nampa and West Ada school districts struggle to track COVID-19 cases in schools

Getting accurate numbers for the amount of COVID-19 cases in schools is difficult, according to the Nampa School District, which also says the numbers are too low.

NAMPA, Idaho — According to school officials, it's no easy task to get an accurate count on the number of COVID-19 cases in the Nampa School District's classrooms.

Last week on Aug. 30, the district's COVID-19 dashboard reported 114 COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, the district later reported 2,692 students were absent from class.

"We know that those numbers are lower than what's actually out there," Nampa School District spokesperson Kathleen Tuck told KTVB. "A lot of absences that are not COVID positive cases but are COVID related."

Perhaps the most difficult part is getting anything confirmed. Tuck said it has been very difficult for people to get a COVID-19 test, especially a rapid test. Then, by the time a student or staff member finally gets their results back, the 10-day quarantine period could have already passed.

That has led some to not test despite exposure or symptoms; the person in question would therefore not be counted on the schools dashboard.

"Unless they call and report to us that they had a positive COVID case or unless they test at someplace that is then reported to southwest district heath and then to us, we have no way of knowing," Tuck explained.

Nampa School District reports all cases that come to their attention, according to Tuck. It doesn't matter where or how a student was exposed of where they have been since. 

Though over at the West Ada School District, officials only report COVID-19 cases to their dashboard that "reflect those students and staff that were infectious only while attending in-person school," West Ada spokesperson Char Jackson wrote KTVB in an email.

With unequal policies, the numbers and what they represent are similarly uneven. 

The West Ada School District's student population of 39,679 is over twice the size of the Nampa School District's student population of 13,600. However, West Ada currently reports 116 active cases, two more cases than Nampa.

As the policies differ from district to district, the numbers similarly cannot be equally compared. Even for the districts that try and track them all, it isn't easy.

"When we say we have 2,000-some students out, we're not saying that they all have positive cases of COVID, but we're saying COVID plays a big part in those numbers in one way or another," Tuck 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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