Summit School District officials prepare for hybrid learning to return Monday |

Summit School District officials prepare for hybrid learning to return Monday

District plans to opt into at-home testing program for teachers, staff and select students

After answering a basic list of health-related questions, third-grader Danielle Hering is checked in and ready for her first day of school at Silverthorne Elementary on Aug. 27.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

After weeks of online school, Summit School District students will return to a hybrid learning model Monday, Jan. 11.

Overwhelmed by mandatory quarantines, the district went fully online Nov. 30. While students returned to online learning Jan. 4, Monday will be the first day with students back in the classroom.

The schedule will be the same as in the fall with middle and high school students attending school in person two days a week and elementary students in person four days a week. Students will participate in online learning on the remaining days.

Although the schedule will be the same as what students saw for the majority of the fall semester, parents will notice some changes, district spokesperson Mikki Grebetz said.

For one, if students are experiencing symptoms of the virus, they will need only a negative test result in order to return to in-person learning. At the start of the school year, the state required students to show both a doctor’s note and a negative test to be released from quarantine.

“The doctor’s note was an undue burden on some of our families,” she said. “The status of classes depended on individuals receiving both the test result and the doctor’s note, and getting both of those in a four-day window was very difficult.”

The state also has updated guidance allowing for “targeted quarantines,” which gives the district the option to quarantine individuals rather than entire cohorts. In order for a student to be in a targeted quarantine, their classroom has to follow a series of requirements, such as seating charts that keep students physically distanced.

Grebetz said the targeted quarantines will be useful in the middle and high schools. However, some elementary classes won’t meet the requirements.

“It’s beneficial for them socially and emotionally to be closer together,” she said. “For some of our elementary (classes), targeted quarantining will not be able to be used because they don’t meet all the criteria.”

The district also hopes to take advantage of a new state program that will give teachers and staff at the district tests to be used at home. At a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Jared Polis announced that Colorado will be among three states that are using the BinaxNOW Tests.

“It can be a comfort to rule out COVID and know that it’s a common cold or to start the quarantine earlier to prevent the spread,” he said.

If approved for the program, district teachers, staff and select students will be able to order tests to their home so they can screen themselves. A telehealth provider will proctor the test and read the results, which will be provided rapidly, according to a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment news release.

The district is still awaiting more information about the program before it’s implemented locally. The state department has requested that district officials fill out a survey with feedback about the program, which the district plans to do, Grebetz said.

“At this time, the district is still working on plans that we have to submit to the state to be able to offer this type of testing,” she said.

While district officials are excited to welcome students back into school, Grebetz said it’s more important than ever for the community to continue wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, getting tested and staying 6 feet away from others.

“This is hopeful and exciting that students are coming back, but we really want to continue to urge community members to help drive down the positivity and case numbers,” she said.

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