Nearly 400 Summit students affected by recent quarantines
District leaders set to make decision April 16 on remainder of school year
Summit School District has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and quarantines, putting the possibility of increased in-person learning this school year in jeopardy.
At a Summit School District Board of Education meeting Thursday, Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. and Chief Operating Officer Drew Adkins said the district continues to target Friday, April 16, the start of spring break, as when they’ll decide whether to increase in-person learning at secondary schools for the final six weeks of the year. Smith and Adkins said that decision will include considerations to not jeopardize end-of-year festivities and rite-of-passage events, like prom and graduation, due to COVID-19 transmission.
Adkins said the district had 25 positive COVID-19 cases last week, close to an all-time high for the school year. There also have been three outbreaks at Summit Middle School in the past 10 days.
Adkins said recent positive tests have left 397 students — 11% of the district’s total enrollment — affected by a quarantine. That includes nearly one-third of Summit Middle School and half of Frisco Elementary School students, he said. A recent outbreak at Alpine Dance Academy has contributed to the school quarantines.
Adkins said most of the positive cases were among students now that teachers have been vaccinated. The district has already begun vaccinating several hundred high school students ages 16 and older, he said.
“We’re not going to let down our guard and stumble before the finish,” Adkins said. “It is another wave.”
Students describe struggles of altered school schedules
Also at Thursday’s meeting, a collection of secondary students shared their thoughts on online learning.
A common message from the middle and high school students was that the hybrid in-person and online schedules prevented them from spending time in school with their friends.
Summit High School junior Sophia Vaine said she thought the district did a good job providing some days of in-person learning through most of the year. But she said the switches from a semester schedule to quarter schedules and the switch to alternating in-person days were a challenge for her and others.
“I was unlucky. I was put on a day where I didn’t have any of my friends,” Vaine said. “I missed seeing all my friends and the people I would see. I hope next year we can get back to somewhat of a normal school year with everyone back in person and doing the normal fun high school stuff we’d usually do.”
Summit High freshman Haven Leinweber said she also did not have many classes with friends due to the alphabetized nature of the alternating in-person days. She said she did like how the quarters schedule didn’t lead to boredom or burnout in her classes.
Summit Middle School student Elizabeth Blake said the district’s Wednesday at-home days provided students with an opportunity to recharge and catch up on work at their own pace. Elizabeth also said the alternating in-person days at the middle school resulted in her not being with her friends, though she added she liked how it forced her to make new friends.
Elizabeth said she and other students did not like having to wear facial masks or coverings all day because it was uncomfortable and made communication in class difficult. She added that it’s been weird to not be able to move throughout the school buildings due to COVID-19 rules. She also said the schedule of learning subjects in three-week alternating blocks made it difficult to progress her understanding of a subject because she struggled to remember what she learned three weeks prior.
Summit High sophomore Liam Mcreery said his choice for full online learning allowed him to work at his own pace and go “above and beyond” in certain classes. But he said his interactions with the school this year have been “a bit lackluster.”
“Frankly, myself and a lot of my friends who have decided to go fully online, felt like we were just completely dropped,” Mcreery said. “We would not get information until a few days before something happened, or even we just wouldn’t get information. … There were multiple, multiple instances where we felt completely left in the dust and like we were not even given second priority; we were given third or fourth priority.”
Mcreery said he hopes to go back in person next school year “to get into a semblance of regularity and to be able to get back to what everybody is familiar with so we don’t have to deal with the chaos of the pandemic.”
As a collective, Snowy Peaks students — who have studied in person four days a week as opposed to two — were more positive about their school year.
Seventh-grade student Hamilton Preaus said his smaller class size of eight students made it easier to physically distance. But he and other Snowy Peaks students added that not being able to spend time with friends or hug friends and teachers was difficult.
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