’I need your help’: Summit School District officials urge families to stay vigilant as COVID-19 cases surge
KEYSTONE — As Summit County braces for yet another round of changing restrictions due to the pandemic, organizations like the Summit School District are being forced to adapt.
At a town hall for district families Wednesday, Nov. 18, Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. spoke about the district’s efforts to keep schools open as cases continue to rise.
“I need your help,” Smith said. “I’m asking our community, internally and externally, to continue to focus on public health vigilance when outside of our school houses.”
The town hall, which was planned to address the county’s move into the level orange phase of response, came just 24 hours after the announcement that Summit County will be moving into the new level red phase on the COVID-19 dial. Smith and his team were unable to say how the district will be responding to the new level.
However, the district’s current model of having elementary and pre-K students learning in-person four days a week with middle and high schoolers in-person just two days a week meets the guidance outlined for counties in level red, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.
Smith said the district will communicate — by Monday, Nov. 23, at the latest — any additional information or actions that it will be taken in response to the dial change.
“We appreciate the grace and space for us to review this new information and the new implications for a new dial … and how that impacts the work we’re currently doing, how that’s going to impact the work going forward,” Smith said.
While the district has been able to educate students in the hybrid learning model, that doesn’t mean it has escaped the virus.
The district had 22% of students and 16% of staff in quarantine over the week of Nov. 16 alone, Smith said. Most of the quarantines are within elementary schools, with 80% of the quarantines in the past two weeks at the elementary level. In total, 58% of quarantines have been at the elementary level, he said.
Overall, 51% of the cases in the district and 35% of the total quarantines have taken place since Nov. 1, Chief Operations Officer Drew Adkins said.
Smith urged families to keep those statistics in mind as they go through the next few weeks. The district has maintained that the majority of cases have spread through socialization outside of school.
Smith said he hopes to see families being vigilant by not hosting gatherings for Thanksgiving and following the county’s “six commitments to containment,” which include washing your hands, wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart, staying home if sick, getting tested if sick and getting a flu shot.
Within schools, the district is working to do as much as possible to respond to the virus. Adkins said the district has started offering curative tests for the virus, which is a cheek swab test, within Summit Middle School. While the test isn’t considered “rapid,” it is able to get a result in 24 to 48 hours. The district plans to have more of those tests available in the rest of the schools in the coming weeks, he said.
The district also has been able to implement more advanced air filtration measures, isolation rooms for sick students and dedicate Wednesdays to deep cleaning district buildings, Adkins said.
“When we’ve seen the virus pop up in schools, we’ve been quick to act there, whether that’s taking a pause or just making sure that we are able to get in there and clean those rooms,” Adkins said.
Public Health Director Amy Wineland was also available to answer questions about quarantining at the town hall. Wineland said the most important thing for parents to do is get their child tested for the virus as soon as they show symptoms.
She added that kids who have been exposed to the virus through their cohort but are not showing symptoms should also get tested about seven days after their exposure.
“What’s important to understand is that there is asymptomatic spread of this virus,” she said. “We do recommend if there has been an exposure that people get tested on Day 7 of their quarantine if they have not developed any symptoms.”
The following places offer testing for the virus in Summit County:
Centura Health’s Centers for Occupational Medicine in Frisco: Testing available daily by appointment at the Vista Professional Building. To schedule an appointment, call 970-668-5584.
State testing in Silverthorne: Drive-thru testing available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at 464-478 E. Fourth St. in the overflow parking lot by the Silverthorne Recreation Center. No appointment, insurance or identification is required to be tested.
Vail Health testing in Frisco: Testing is available by appointment from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Old Community Center, 110 Third Ave. To book an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org including name, phone number, a copy of photo ID and front and back copies of a health insurance card.
Anyone who has been tested because of exposure to the virus is required to quarantine for 14 days regardless of test result, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said.
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As the Summit School District prepares for all online instruction, adults are focusing their attention on the health and well-being of the students.