POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - As planned, Idaho State University is returning to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester.
In preparation for a rise in Covid-19 cases, university officials planned to end the semester early and have most courses finish lectures and final exams remotely.
“We cut the semester short a week so nobody’s returning to campus after break and bringing coronavirus back,” said Dr. Ronald Solbrig, a member of ISU's coronavirus task force.
Students emptied out of campus ahead of Thanksgiving. The return to remote learning may be in the nick of time.
“With the increasing number of cases on campus and in Bannock County over the last several weeks, it was a perfect time to have a break and hopefully things will cool down between now and January,” Solbrig said.
Through contact tracing, the coronavirus task force is tracking where campus members are catching the virus. Solbrig said they've found that most people are picking it up in the community.
“There’s only a very small minority of them that have been from a class exposure or on-campus exposure, all the rest are from off-campus,” Solbrig said.
The small number of cases contracted on-campus is a testament to the safety measures ISU has taken, Solbrig said.
“We’ve really been able to tell from the contact tracing that the masks and distancing really works,” Solbrig said.
“We’ve seen more and more people where we can’t identify where they’re getting it from. Which to me, means there’s just so much Covid in the community that people are picking it up walking down the aisles of the grocery store,” Solbrig said.
ISU is hopeful community case rates will drop in time for the start of the next semester on Jan. 11.
“But we may be in worse position in January than we are now,” Solbrig said.
Currently, ISU plans to return to in-person courses for the spring semester.