Currently, preschool continues to operate in that building as well as some student support where staff didn’t face quarantine. At this time, an additional staff member has tested positive which will likely establish Needham as a center of “Outbreak” within our community, as designated by the San Juan Basin Public Health Department. Needham remains closed as previously determined. This is the first case where contraction from one adult to another likely occurred within one of our facilities.
Since last weekend, we have had to quarantine ten cohorts including our Cheer Team at Durango High School. This is almost 10% of our school children in quarantine at this time. A majority of these are due to adult contraction of the virus and potential exposure of students. The spread in our community is clearly having an impact on our schools.
With 10% of students quarantined, we’d like to review what this entails and important monitoring measures. As a reminder, in order to reduce spread, we quarantine those without symptoms who have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19 for 14 days. This is because one can develop the illness up to 14 days after the last contact with the positive person. If the quarantined person does not have symptoms, their close contacts (including family members) do not need to quarantine. However, if at ANY point the quarantined person develops symptoms, their contacts must quarantine immediately for 14 days from last contact as well. For our students, this means that siblings would then be quarantined. Please let our staff know if any student who is in a quarantine group develops symptoms at any time during that time away from school.
As a community, we must remain vigilant. I encourage all of us to do our part by continuing to wear masks, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings with others outside of our own household, and exercise frequent hand washing. We are doing our best in managing to keep our schools open. We recognize that our schools do provide more than just an educational experience for our students - they allow our community and economy to function. Other districts in the state have pivoted to a full remote model due to the community spread. We are now in conversation with our Return to Learn Task Force to explore possible adjustments that can further expand social distancing and contribute to the overall reduction of spread in our community.
We must not let down our guard as we see this spike in community transmission. We must continue to socially distance and not gather in large groups without the proper precautions. We must recognize that each of us contribute to the overall effort in our community to get control of this spread. Otherwise, behavior contrary to this will have a devastating impact on our community and our schools. If our community continues on this path, it could lead to drastic changes in our schools to protect both students and staff.
Now is the time to have this important conversation as a family about how we protect ourselves and our loved ones by limiting contact outside of our home, using the 3W’s (Wear a Mask, Wash Your Hands, Watch Your Distance) safety precautions, and adhering to the measures we know help limit escalation of COVID-19 contraction in our community. I do fear our teenagers and young adults are not taking this seriously. While contraction of the virus is likely to have limited impact on them, their behaviors have the potential to cause devastating impacts on others in their household or our community who may not be able to escape with a more mild case as we see in our younger population. We can do better as a community and I call upon each of you to do your part.
In the coming week, our staff will be exploring options that may lead to a change in our models of learning. My hope is to preserve as much in-person learning as possible as there are individuals in our community who struggle academically from a remote model of learning, and families, based on their jobs and livelihood, that can’t support their children being home five days a week from school.
Please help us by doing your part. In the next two weeks, we are likely to see more cohort closures. Please begin to prepare for how you can support your child if they fall into one of these situations. If called by your school to pick up your student due to your child having symptoms, please have a plan of how you can quickly pick up your child to limit impact on others in the school. Remain vigilant on knowing where your children are and insist that they limit their contact with others and practice the 3 W’s at ALL times. If your child has any symptoms, don’t dismiss it as a minor cold and allow them to engage with others. Keep them at home and isolated until those symptoms clear. Do not let them interact with other students outside of school either.
Please know that we will be monitoring daily updated guidance and information to determine appropriate action. Regarding events and other school-based programs: we will be keeping you informed about developments occurring in order to minimize the spread of the virus. This is not a time to panic. It is, however, a time to be attentive, flexible, serious, and engaged regarding the steps we need to take as a community to care for ourselves and for one another. Together, we can have an impact and slow this spread. Please be attentive to all emails and/or 9-R communications addressing COVID-19 and additional steps we will be taking to address this rapidly evolving situation. Thank you!