Summit School District, Peak School release back-to-school guidelines

Students will return full time but will be required to wear masks

A sign outside of Summit High School in Breckenridge is there to remind students they are loved, as pictured on Friday, May 8, 2020. Summit School District will welcome back students in person five days a week this school year with masking in place.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily Archives

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Peak School recommends students who are unvaccinated get tested prior to the start of school.

The Summit School District released its guidelines and operational plans for the 2021-22 school year Monday, Aug. 9, which include bringing students back to school full time and in person.

All students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks inside school buildings and on school buses, according to the plan. Students will not be required to wear masks during outdoor activities, such as sports, physical education classes and recess.

“It is absolutely critical for their academic progress and mental and social well-being that our students remain in school full time without interruption,” Superintendent Roy Crawford said in an email. “… This is the best way the schools can support our communities and beat back this virus in Summit County. We cannot come up short. The stakes are too high.”

The district is hoping to limit quarantines due to COVID-19 this year, and vaccinated staff and students won’t have to quarantine following close contacts. The district is encouraging all eligible staff and students to get vaccinated prior to the start of the school year.

“As soon as there’s a vaccine available for students under 12, we will work closely with public health and the care clinic to set up vaccination pods to get those kids access to that vaccine,” district Physical Health Coordinator Elizabeth Edgar said.

Students will not be required to get tested prior to the start of the school year, according to district spokesperson Andrea Ridder. She said students will be required to be tested if they have symptoms and want to return to school prior to those symptoms going away.

“If children have any of the COVID symptoms, they need to stay home from school, even if it’s a runny nose, and certainly call (the) school to let them know they’re having symptoms and get a test,” Edgar said.

The district will also prohibit any student cohorting in classrooms, though social distancing requirements will be reduced from 6 to 3 feet when possible inside school buildings.

“We are excited to have students back five days a week this year,” Chief Academic Officer Mary Kay Doré said in a text message. “We applaud everyone for their work last year and are hopeful these mitigation efforts allow us to focus on our business — students’ learning.”

According to a press release from the district, coronavirus cases have increased over the past month, including cases among the county’s youth population. The district will work closely with the Summit County Public Health Department to stay informed on local trends.

Should the county see declining case numbers, the district will continue working with the department to “evaluate thresholds and the necessity of masks,” according to the press release.

“We’re so excited that everyone gets to come back full time,” Ridder said. “We are going to go back to learning in the most fun and robust way we can without many of the limitations we had before, but we’re going to wear masks until we don’t need to.”

The Peak School will also be in person five days a week and will require masks for all teachers, staff and students, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be required while inside the school building and while riding school vans, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. This can change throughout the school year depending on case numbers, Head of School Travis Aldrich said in an email sent to Peak School families.

“I think we’re optimistic, and I think that everyone’s excited about getting back to a place where we can be five days a week,” Aldrich said. “Just like last year, we’re going to rely on being outside as much as we can, and that’s really our plan.”

The Peak School is also encouraging all of its staff and students who are eligible to get vaccinated. It’s recommended that any unvaccinated students get tested and submit the results to the school’s welcome office before the start of school.

Students and staff are encouraged to stay home if they are sick and to follow quarantine protocols if they test positive for the coronavirus. The school is asking parents to reach out to their student’s basecamp teacher and the welcome office to inform the school of any illness-related absence and the student’s symptoms.

The Peak School will hold most of its classes outside at the start of the school year and asks that all students bring their own camp chairs to school. Additionally, the school purchased a number of high-efficiency particulate air filters that are placed strategically around the school. Hand sanitizer stations will also be dispersed throughout the building.

“Summit County health has been really great in helping us put together a strategy that’s going to work for our community,” Aldrich said. “We’re really grateful for all the work they’ve put in.”

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