Summit School District sees COVID-19 numbers near record highs |

Summit School District sees COVID-19 numbers near record highs

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. The district is relying on daily symptom trackers to allow for 10-day quarantines.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Almost a month after the Summit School District returned to a hybrid learning model, the number of quarantines and cases among students and staff members are nearing high levels that the district saw in November.

Because of increasing quarantines among staff and students, the district transitioned to a temporary period of online learning Nov. 30. In November, the district had about 80 students and staff members with confirmed positive tests. The number of active quarantines reached a high around Nov. 15, accounting for 14% of all quarantines in the district since the start of the pandemic.

In January, just over three weeks since students returned to school in a hybrid model Jan. 11, those same numbers are rising once again. As of Jan. 26, the district had 75 positive cases for the month and the percentage of new quarantines was at 10%, according to a presentation by Chief Operations Officer Drew Adkins at a school board meeting Thursday, Jan. 28.

Adkins said he expects the number of positive cases to be higher at the end of the month.

“We actually are higher than that, or we will eclipse that, by the end of January,” he said at the meeting. “So January is shaping up to be our month that had the most positivity in our learning community to date.”

Chief Operations Officer Drew Adkins presents COVID-19 data at a virtual school board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 28. The district is seeing January case numbers approach record highs experienced in November.
Screenshot from Summit School District Board of Education meeting

In the past week, the district issued nine quarantines, eight of which were at Summit High School, and had two outbreaks, according to the district’s COVID-19 resources page.

While the numbers are concerning, Adkins said the district is still able to function unlike in November when the district was overwhelmed with the number of staff quarantines, causing school to go online.

One of the big reasons for that is new guidance related to school quarantines from the state. School staff and students used to be required to quarantine for 14 days. It’s now possible for that quarantine period to be shortened to 10 or seven days, which will prove especially beneficial for staff members, Adkins said.

Under a 10-day quarantine, students or staff can return to school 11 days after exposure if they have shown no symptoms of the virus. Under a seven-day quarantine, students and staff can return on day eight, as long as they have not shown any symptoms and have a negative test result from a test that was administered on day five or later.

Adkins said the seven-day quarantine will be ideal for staff members as their absence from school makes it difficult for in-person learning to resume. However, the logistics of having students get a test and a result from day five to seven means it will be rarely used in student cases.

For students, Adkins said the district expects to be using the 10-day quarantine most often. The 10-day quarantine allows the district to use its daily symptom trackers to monitor how students are feeling and extend the quarantine to 14 days if a student starts to feel sick.

“More often or not we’ll have 10-day quarantines,” Adkins said. “If there is an instance where the teacher is sick, or a large number of students in the classroom are sick, then we’ll follow through with the 14 days.”

At the meeting, school board President Kate Hudnut shared her own experience with the school’s quarantine process.

“As a parent who had her first quarantine this week, I started to read through everything and tried to make sense of it all,” she said. “I thought that I understood it from all of these presentations, but once you live it, it’s a different chapter.”

Hudnut added that the district’s team was helpful to her in understanding the rules around the quarantine.

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