Note: Recipient-submitted material; content authored by recipient, not ELC
Information current as of October 6, 2021
Management structure for school screening
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) Division of Public Health’s (DPH) does not currently have authority to participate in the activities associated with the funding that was awarded. To support schools, the DHW DPH is leveraging redirected ELC Enhancing Detection Expansion funds. The Epidemiology Section within the DPH is responsible for directing and managing the activities associated with implementing a screening and testing program at the K-12 school or school district level. Because Idaho school districts govern themselves, each known K-12 school will be presented with the opportunity to implement a program by sub-granting with the DHW. The Epidemiology Section will continue to collaborate with partners on the Back to School Task Force to help promote the program and distribute the registration link and supporting information in collaboration with the SDE. It is anticipated that schools who choose to avail themselves of the funding can use it in ways that meet their individual school needs, assuming it aligns with the objectives and allowable spending of the federal program. The Epidemiology Section will support a comprehensive screening and diagnostic program, hiring testing coordinator or personnel to support testing and follow up, purchasing test kits and/or hiring a service to do the testing on the school’s behalf. The choice will be entirely up to the school or school district wishing to implement a program. The Epidemiology Section and testing partners with the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories (IBL) will provide technical assistance regarding testing options, associated requirements for specific types of testing, reporting testing results, and response to a positive COVID-19 test result.
Support provided to school districts
As described previously, the Idaho Constitution provides that the general supervision, governance, and control of the state educational institutions and public school system of the State of Idaho, as with the education system’s executive agencies, shall be vested in a State Board of Education, an entity separate from the DHW. The State Department of Education works closely with local school districts, superintendents and other administrators and teachers to implement policies and state-level standards in areas such as instructional standards and graduation requirements. The decision to implement a voluntary school-based screening program will be that of local K-12 school and school district leaders. Since the beginning for the pandemic, the DHW has made robust, near real-time surveillance dataexternal icon available to the public. County-level incidence and seven-day moving average incidence rates will remain available for assessing the level of community transmission as Idaho schools and school districts plan to implement a screening and testing program. All seven Idaho public health departments also maintain their own COVID-19 surveillance data and routinely make these data available to their schools on an as needed basis.
Besides promoting CDC COVID-19 guidance for the educational setting, the DHW also supports and, when requested, provides recommendations to the State Department of Education 2021-2022 Back to School Guidance. The DHW will support any K-12 school or school district request to implement a school-based or event-based screening or diagnostic testing program or efforts to conduct contact tracing and will continue to promote the safe operation of schools so in-person instruction can continue. Idaho K-12 schools implementing a testing program and receiving ELC Enhancing Detection Expansion funding will be expected to design a testing program and develop a plan, execute the plan, appropriately isolate those with positive tests, recommend self-quarantine for contacts, and ensure adequate at home access to learning resources while in isolation or quarantine.