Summit High students, parents discuss state of schooling amid COVID-19 |

Summit High students, parents discuss state of schooling amid COVID-19

David and Abasai Guzman give their mother a hug before the first day of school at Silverthorne Elementary on Thursday, Aug. 27.
Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Nearly two months into the Summit School District’s “hybrid” learning model, Summit High School senior Foster Krueger won’t attend his two days of in-person school this week.

That’s because Krueger, the high school’s student body president, tested positive recently for the novel coronavirus. He thinks he may have contracted it at a hockey practice where someone else in attendance soon after tested positive. That said, Krueger added of that “cohort” group, he’s the only other person to test positive to his knowledge. Also, since he’s been home, he said none of his other household members have tested positive.

Krueger will quarantine at home per the district and county department of public health’s COVID-19 order through Friday. To this point, Krueger said his symptoms have been limited to a headache, one day of a fever and, now, just a stuffy nose, as he said he believes he’s quickly recovered.

“I think that most students my age can handle the virus very well, just like I did,” Krueger said. “I know plenty of people who are asymptomatic. Some people were in close contact and didn’t even test positive. But I also think it’s important to keep in mind that there are people who have asthma, who live with their grandparents, too.”

Krueger’s case and his perspective of the virus is just one of many around the county right now. But the personal experience, Krueger said, has further evolved his thoughts on COVID-19 and how it affects life, and schooling, for local students like him while case numbers rise across the county and country.

Naomi McMahon, parent of a student at Summit Middle School, said she’s been pleasantly surprised with how well the first quarter of the district’s hybrid schooling has gone. She’s commended the communication of teachers in her child’s cohort group. That said, she thinks “it’s only a matter of time” before the district will need to transition to remote learning completely.

“That makes me sad because school is so much more than just academics and my kids need the interaction that school provides,” McMahon said.

Krueger said he understands the different elements of the virus situation that are hotly debated in the Summit community. With that, he still isn’t 100% certain how much of school should be open or closed. Krueger is concrete in that his favorite element of the return to school this fall has been going back to in-person classes while wearing facial coverings and social distancing. Despite contracting the virus, he feels in-person schooling is safe and a better way to learn. To this point he thinks the district and his teachers have done a good job with educating and safety. But, he said, if the district returned to at-home schooling, he’d be disappointed and he feels the quality of education would suffer.

“It’s just — it’s a different experience than sitting in front of a computer and trying to learn,” Krueger said. “Face to face with classmates, teachers — even in a mask — it’s a lot better, especially compared to online learning last year from March on. … In general I think many of the rest of the students feel the same.”

A senior at Snowy Peaks High School, Christian Arndt and his mother Tina are content with how his four days of in-person and one day remote schooling has gone. Tina described the district’s COVID communication as “equitable and transparent,” and Christian said he likes “how seriously” Snowy Peaks staff is taking his education. Though he described online learning as “fine,” he said many kids have a harder time retaining what they learn online.

As for the rest of an uncertain school year, for a senior leader like Krueger, there’s much to consider. He doesn’t like how the district splits in-person schooling groups by last name, as it significantly reduces the number of friends he’s able to see socially. In terms of shutting down sports for a positive test, he’s unsure of what’s the right thing to do. He said COVID spread to this point within the hockey and football teams has been limited to just a few people and athletes he knows who have contracted the virus have done well health wise. And, in a perfect world, Krueger would prefer more in-person schooling than two days a week.

But, Krueger believes, time will ultimately tell what’s the right thing to do. A few weeks from now he, students, teachers, the district and the community will know much more about how the virus is affecting everyone and everything. Hopefully then a guy like him will have more clarity on what he feels the district should do.

“We will have a better idea,” he said.

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