The Cherry Creek School District has warned families to prepare for possible disruptions to school during the coming weeks, including temporary classroom or whole-school closures due to staff and …
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Cherry Creek School District and partners STRIDE and Kaiser Permanente are hosting several vaccine clinics for families who choose to vaccinate their children, according to a school district email to families.
STRIDE Community Health Center is a nonprofit health-care provider with locations around the Denver metro area.
The clinics will offer the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, COVID-19 vaccines for those 12 years and older and COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Some clinics will also offer flu shots, the email said.
See the school district's webpage here for details.
No-cost COVID-19 testing is available at the COVIDCheck Colorado testing site at the school district’s Instructional Support Facility, located at 5416 S. Riviera Way. That’s a short drive southeast of Quincy Avenue and Reservoir Road, down the street from Eaglecrest High School in the east Centennial area.
See here and scroll down to “COVID-19 Testing” for details.
The state public health department has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance, changing how long it suggests people with COVID-19 — or those who are exposed to it — should avoid others.
Colorado made the move to align with the change in recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a Dec. 27 news release.
“Isolation” refers to the steps a person should take after a confirmed infection, according to the CDC’s website. Quarantine, on the other hand, is when people avoid others after exposure to the virus and wait to see whether sickness occurs.
The updated guidance reduces the recommended time in isolation for those in the general population with COVID-19 from 10 to five days if asymptomatic on day 5, followed by an additional five days wearing a mask when around others, according to the state public health department.
Depending on local public health orders, mask wearing may be required in public in general indoors regardless of isolation or quarantine.
Aside from the isolation guidance, the new quarantine guidance depends on how long it has been since a person’s initial vaccine shots and whether the person has received a booster shot.
For those who have been exposed to the virus, the CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by mask use for an additional five days for people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose — or more than two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine — and have not yet received a third dose (or second dose if receiving the J&J vaccine), according to the state public health department.
Basically, that guidance applies to those who are unvaccinated or were vaccinated some time ago but have not yet gotten a booster shot.
People who have more recently completed their primary vaccination series — meaning within six months of a person’s second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or within two months of their J&J dose — or who have received their third dose (or second dose if receiving the J&J vaccine) do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but they should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
Again, the public should note that local orders may require mask wearing in public regardless of the above guidance.
What’s more, the CDC’s own specific guidance on mask wearing says that people, including children older than 2, should wear a mask in indoor public places if they are:
• Not fully vaccinated
• Fully vaccinated and in an area with “substantial or high” COVID transmission
• Fully vaccinated and with weakened immune systems
See if your county is experiencing high or substantial COVID spread here.
Regardless of vaccination status, the CDC recommends testing on day 5 after exposure or immediately if symptoms develop, according to the state public health department.
“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” the CDC said in a Dec. 27 news release about the updated isolation and quarantine guidance.
The Cherry Creek School District has warned families to prepare for possible disruptions to school during the coming weeks, including temporary classroom or whole-school closures due to staff and substitute shortages.
“As we continue back through this new variant, we realized that the contagion rate is much higher than in recent months,” Superintendent Christopher Smith said in a video message sent to families Jan. 4. “So we may have some impacts around staffing shortages in transportation, food and nutrition, and in our classrooms.
“What I’d like you to know is our leadership team, from a district level, is leaning into schools and supporting any way we possibly can,” Smith added.
Day care programs could also be disrupted due to staffing shortages, according to a letter from the superintendent dated Jan. 2.
School resumed on Jan. 4 for the spring semester in Cherry Creek amid a steep spike in new coronavirus cases in Colorado, driven by the more-contagious omicron variant.
The school district told families to prepare for hurdles resulting from staffing and substitute shortages and potential outbreaks of COVID-19 cases in a classroom, grade or school.
“There may be times that students have reduced options or are served bagged lunches if there are not enough staff to prepare hot meals,” the superintendent’s letter said.
Bus transportation may also be disrupted if the district does not have enough drivers — that includes the possibility of route cancellations or significant delays, according to the letter.
“We will do our best to avoid any disruptions in service and will communicate any significant changes as they occur,” the letter continued.
The school district is facing the challenge of operating with a reduced pool of substitutes. Many of the district’s substitute teachers have indicated they do not want to sub at this time, a development the district believes is related to COVID, district spokesperson Abbe Smith said.
So far, Cherry Creek schools have been able to manage by having an “all hands on deck” approach, with central administration staff who have teacher or principal licenses going to into buildings to help out.
“That includes our superintendent, who was out at two elementary schools this week working as a substitute in a classroom,” spokesperson Smith said.
As of Jan. 7, the district said it has not had to close any classrooms or schools or switch to remote learning.
The Tri-County Health Department has extended its school mask mandate through January, the letter noted. All students and staff must wear a mask when inside school and district buildings.
The mandate applies in Adams and Arapahoe counties. Douglas County now operates under the authority of the Douglas County Health Department regarding countywide public health orders. That new health department has not issued a mask mandate.
Cherry Creek district will continue to help support masking by providing surgical-grade masks to those who need one, the letter said.
Along with the district’s supply of masks, Gov. Jared Polis’ administration is providing surgical-grade masks for teachers, staff and students, the letter added.
“Students and staff can continue using their own masks, but we will have masks for anyone who needs one,” the letter continued.
Due to the increasing number of positive COVID cases in the school district, the district will begin notifying families when individual elementary classrooms have a positive case.
“We will no longer notify the entire grade level,” the district said in an email to families.
Regarding that change, spokesperson Smith said: “That way, parents will know specifically the case is in their student’s classroom.”
The email to families continued: “For middle and high schools, we will continue sending weekly case counts each Friday. As always, this data will be posted on the district’s COVID-19 webpage.”
See that webpage here.
Starting around August 2020, the school district sent letters to families of the whole elementary school when there was a COVID case that required any number of students and staff to quarantine.
The district also started last school year by sending case notifications about middle and high schools in real time throughout the week — similar to with elementary schools. But because the middle and high schools are much bigger than elementary schools, the district had to field higher numbers of cases for the higher grades.
At some point last year, the district made the switch to sending the letters once a week on Fridays to middle- and high-school families with a tally of how many positive staff and student cases they had for the week, spokesperson Smith said.
If further action is required for certain families in response to a COVID case, Tri-County Health Department contacts families directly, according to the district’s letters.
“We are notifying you as part of our efforts to be transparent,” the school district’s letters say.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have made decisions on how best to communicate with families based on the information and conditions at that time,” said Smith, the spokesperson. “We have made adjustments as cases numbers trended upward and back downward and based on new information as we learned more about the virus over time.”
The district also pointed to updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about isolation for people who test positive for COVID-19.
Under the updated guidance, people with COVID-19 can isolate for five days instead of 10, followed by five days of wearing a mask around other people if they are asymptomatic — meaning if they don’t have symptoms — or have greatly improved symptoms after day 5 of isolation, according to the school district’s letter.
Depending on local public health orders, mask wearing may be required in public in general indoors, regardless of isolation or quarantine, as is the case in Arapahoe County.
In light of the omicron variant’s spread, the “greatest takeaway” for Cherry Creek is: If your child is sick, please keep them home, said Michelle Weinraub, the school district’s chief health officer.
“We know that it is hard sometimes to access a test, whether it’s a rapid test you buy or the PCR tests you wait in your car (for) through COVIDCheck Colorado and other (test) sites,” Weinraub said in the video message. “If they’re sick and you can get an appointment for a test, that’s great — please do that. Otherwise, please keep them home.”
Smith, the superintendent, wrote in the letter: “It is my hope that we can weather the coming surge in omicron cases by keeping schools open for in-person learning as much as possible until this wave passes. You can help us keep schools open by following the best practices … and by keeping your student home from school when they are sick or have any symptoms of illness.”
“We know that this is a difficult time,” Smith said in the video message. “We realize that things aren’t perfect, and we thank you for your patience, and we thank you for your grace.”
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