KSD, BCSD both contact tracing following positive test

by JOSH MCDONALD
Staff Reporter | September 14, 2020 4:22 PM

The Boundary County School District reported its first case of COVID-19 on Sunday, according to BCSD Superintendent Jan Bayer.

Reported Sunday evening by the Bonners Ferry Herald, Bayer said the district was notified by a parent that a student at Bonners Ferry High School had a positive COVID-19 test, but hadn’t been in contact with any students or staff for two days prior to the district being notified.

This is particularly concerning because the Kellogg High School football team played in Bonners Ferry on Friday evening.

According to Dr. Nancy Larsen, the superintendent of the Kellogg School District, the initial contact tracing has begun and so far they have been able to rule out direct exposure.

“We have determined through contract tracing protocols that there was not an exposure,” Larsen said. “With contact tracing of students, especially, confidentiality protects the individual, but it also limits the information we can share. So, at this time, we don't have to take further action. If we learn something different, we may have to reevaluate. Nicole Lewis (KSD’s nurse) is monitoring contact tracing for our district. Every moment seems to bring something new. We hope this one is behind us. We are sad for Bonners Ferry’s schools and will continue to work with them if more information comes up.”

Prior to the game, KHS Athletic Director Mike LaFountaine had been given Bonners Ferry’s guidelines for those attending the game.

BFHS asked that people wear masks as they entered the field, but that they could remove them once they got seated in their “family pod,” each “family pod” was asked to keep 6-feet distance from the next one, and they limited their arena capacity to 50% (600 people, including players and coaching staff).

While a sizable crowd did attend the game, it is unknown if the 600-person limit was followed, and the group spacing rule was, at best, a recommendation that was both loosely followed and enforced, which has been common for the majority of recent local events.

Bayer, the former principal of Kellogg Middle School, is now working with local health agencies to make sure that they contain and monitor any potential contact involving the student and the community.

“The safety and well-being of its students and staff is the district's top priority,” Bayer said. “Toward that end, BCSD is working closely with Panhandle Health officials on notifying those who had close contact with the student and will be calling those individuals and/or their guardians.”

All schools in the BCSD have been closed for continued contact tracing, deep cleaning efforts, as well as for air quality issues as one of the preventative measures is increased ventilation.

The Bonners Ferry Herald contributed to this story.