Parents concerned about D51’s COVID communication system

Local News

MESA COUNTY, Colo. – Thousands of parents trust the Mesa County School District to protect their children from the coronavirus, and that is why some parents chose in-person learning this school year. However, those parents are second guessing that decision since they say they aren’t receiving the proper notifications about positive COVID cases.

School District 51 has about 22,000 students and 3,000 staff members, and as of this week, D51 has reported approximately 25 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one of which occurred in September at Central High School. One mother whose son attends CHS says she heard of the positive case from her son, and the district never formally notified her of the case.

Earlier this year, D51 did not inform all parents when a student tested positive for the coronavirus; however, as a of a few weeks ago, due to parental feedback, the district now tells all parents when there is a positive case. (Parents are notified on a school-to-school basis and not a district-wide basis.)

School District 51 has a three-tier notification system of informing parents when a student tests positive for COVID-19. The first level forces students to quarantine if they were in close contact with the positive case. The second level informs students they were exposed to another student who tested positive, but they are not required to quarantine for 14 days. And the third tier, which was newly implemented, is a general FYI to all parents who have a student in the specific school in which another student tested positive for coronavirus. Still, some parents do not think this system is enough, and the mother whose son attends CHS says, “positive or negative, we need to know. I need to know.”

And this mother’s concerns grow as her son has told her that another student at CHS is quarantining, and the district has not notified her about this news. However, Catherine Foster from School District 51 says, “if a student is just in quarantine because they came in contact with somebody outside of school that does not warrant a school notification process.” Foster says this because quarantining by choice is usually a precautionary measure.

Still, the district understands parents want to be up-to-date with everything involving COVID, so it has partnered with Mesa County Public Health to organize coronavirus information and decide when it is necessary to inform parents about COVID related topics.

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