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Covid shuts down Eureka elementary school

by LYNNETTE HINTZE
Daily Inter Lake | September 13, 2021 10:15 AM

Eureka Elementary School closed Monday due to a large number of Covid-19 positive or symptomatic staff, Eureka Superintendent of Schools Jim Mepham said in an online post alerting parents throughout the school district.

“We anticipate the possibility that this could continue until more staff can return to school,” Mepham said, noting the district will continue to post daily updates.

“Our staff has worked tirelessly to get through this pandemic,” he said. “We are thankful for the hours of overtime work by the health department and our ability to secure rapid testing to try to minimize the spread.”

Both the junior and senior high schools were holding classes on Monday as scheduled.

Eureka schools have struggled with Covid-19 outbreaks since the new school year began. On Sept. 8, Mepham — who said he was “one of the Covid sick myself” — reported via Facebook that 14 staff members were isolated and several more were recommended to be quarantined as close contacts. The report further stated 16 students were out with Covid, and three classrooms were isolated by the health department.

LIBBY SCHOOLS also are struggling with Covid-19 outbreaks.

Within days of opening classrooms, Libby Elementary School had more than 20 students and staff members test positive for the coronavirus — almost half the total number of positive test results the school saw last year.

Libby Superintendent Ron Goodman said seven staff members and 14 students had tested positive for the virus as of Sept. 9, according to The Western News. A total of 110 students were in quarantine as of a school board meeting two days prior. Wendy Chopyak, an elementary school teacher, told board members she suspected the number of quarantined individuals was higher after talking with parents.

Despite the spike in positive cases, Goodman said 88 percent of students were still participating in classes either remotely or in-person, The Western News reported.

On Monday morning, Sept. 13, Lincoln County reported 70 new cases of Covid-19, with 316 active cases and 22 hospitalizations in the county. Lincoln County has recorded 41 deaths reported since the pandemic began. A total of 2,067 people have recovered from the disease, according to the Lincoln County Health Department website.

Mepham encouraged parents to be patient as the district works through the outbreak.

“Please realize that every staff member is either sick, quarantined, or overworked,” Mepham posted online Sept. 9. “We are all scared for ourselves, our families, our colleagues, our students, and our community … Most staff members are doing their job and at least part of another. Sick and quarantined staff are contributing from home. … We will continue to make daily decisions.”

THE NOXON School District on Monday was notified by the Sanders County Health Department that several of its students have tested positive for Covid, prompting the district to move to remote teaching for the rest of this week and all of next week, through Sept. 24.

Noxon schools also are canceling all extra-curricular activities, including practices. Classes will be online and buses will be providing homework and meals.

The Noxon School District is in contact with area health departments and will provide further information as it becomes available.

News editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.