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Idaho officials extend statewide school closure

Idaho officials on Monday extended the statewide school closure because of the coronavirus through the end of the academic year, or until social distancing requirements are lifted.

The Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously to extend school closures past the April 20 date for possible re-opening.

Students will still be taught online.

Health officials say the number of people contracting the virus in Idaho is expected to peak in late April and early May. The school closures are based on guidelines for social distancing set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, more Idahoans have been signing up for health care insurance through Medicaid expansion as the economy has collapsed, and others who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus could qualify for the state-run insurance market, officials say.

More than 45,000 workers lost employment in the last several weeks as the state’s economy shed jobs at a record rate.

Medicaid expansion numbers have climbed more steeply over that same period and are approaching 70,000.

Your Health Idaho insurance exchange officials say some workers who lost jobs could get health insurance there if they qualify. About 89,000 residents signed up before the mid-December deadline.

But Idaho is the only state running its own insurance exchange that hasn’t re-opened enrollments to help people get health insurance during the pandemic.

“That’s something they are looking at,” said Jennifer McClelland, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Because numbers are changing so rapidly, it’s difficult to determine how many have turned to Medicaid.

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