District 51 prepared for anything amid increase in kids’ positive COVID-19 cases

Local News

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KFQX) – Newborns to 19-year-olds have the highest COVID case rate in the area for the last 14 days, according to Mesa County Public Health.

COVID cases were found more in workforce age adults at the start of 2021. Since there is still no COVID-19 vaccine safe for people ages 11 and under, public health officials observe how coronavirus continues attaching to the most vulnerable.

“Like all viruses, they need us to keep it alive so now that it’s already gone through all the adults and they can’t really touch those people who have that immunity from previously being affected or vaccinated,” Mesa County Public Health Stefany Busch analyzes, “Now its going after what’s available which is our 0 to 19 age group right now.”

The COVID outbreak among youth has even hit School District 51. The D51 administration has multiple coronavirus procedures in place for students and faculty with the “Keeping Schools Open Plan”.

“If COVID positive cases increase on any district 51 campus, students attending that campus will need to pack a mask with their pen and paper for class,” Cora Dickey reports.

An outbreak on campus is defined as 5 active COVID cases in one school for District 51. Policies and protocols adapt based on circumstances as administrators monitor activity.

The newest procedure is the 2 percent policy for all learning levels.

“If there is a 2% positivity rate or higher at a school, that is going to put into affect a 14-day mask mandate at the site,” School District 51 Public Information Officer Emily Shockley elaborates, “That stays on until we’ve had at least seven consecutive days where the positivity rate is below 1%.”

Students returning to remote learning has not been discussed at this time, but is subject to change if cases increase. Not every child is eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19 but District 51 has custom-made protocols for individual school levels.

2021-22 COVID Mitigation Factors

Elementary:

  • Indoor classroom cohorts required.
  • When a student or staff member within a cohort tests positive for COVID, the COVID-positive individual will be isolated for 10 days.
  • After 1 positive case in a classroom cohort, other members of the classroom cohort will receive an exposure letter, we will monitor for symptoms, and all members of the classroom cohort (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will need to wear a mask for 14 days from the last day of contact with the positive case to avoid potential spread. Students and staff will not be quarantined.
  • After 5 positive cases within 14 days in a classroom cohort, the classroom cohort will be declared an outbreak, and all members of the classroom cohort will be quarantined. Fully vaccinated staff members will not have to quarantine and can teach remotely from their classroom.

Secondary (Middle/High School):

  • When a student or staff member within a class tests positive for COVID, the COVID-positive individual will be isolated for 10 days.
  • After 1 positive case in a class, other members of the class will receive an exposure letter and we will monitor for symptoms, but students and staff will not be quarantined.
  • After 3 positive cases within 14 days in a class, students and staff within that class will be required to receive a negative COVID test to remain in school. Unvaccinated students and staff who do not provide a negative test result will need to quarantine. Proof of student and staff vaccination will avoid the need for testing. If the school reaches 2% student positivity that requires universal masking, this step will be suspended during the universal masking period after universal masking has begun.
  • After 5 positive cases within 14 days in a class, the class will be declared an outbreak, and all members of the class will be quarantined. Non-symptomatic, fully vaccinated students and staff will not be required to quarantine. If the school reaches 2% student positivity that requires universal masking, this step will be suspended during the universal masking period after universal masking has begun.

All Levels
If there is uncontrolled, wide spread transmission in a school:
Threshold for universal masking for an individual school: 
* When COVID-19 incidence reaches 2% (students), masks will be required for the entire school for at least 14 calendar days
* The incidence rate must stay below 1% for 7 consecutive calendar days before universal masking is lifted.

The decision to implement remote learning or close a school may occur based on these considerations:
* Number of students and staff with COVID, and
* Number of staff absent, and
* Number of substitute teachers available

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