St. Vrain Valley School Superintendent Don Haddad said Wednesday that elementary schools were full on the first day of in-person learning for the youngest students of the district.
Haddad told a virtual audience that he visited two elementary schools earlier in the day and both boasted enrollment well above 90%.
“It really was an inspirational moment to see all those kids, it was great,” Haddad said.
Haddad — along with Boulder Valley Superintendent Rob Anderson — spoke during a weekly briefing by Boulder County Public Health officials about the COVID-19 pandemic.
St. Vrain elementary students returned Wednesday to in-person learning four days a week, largely on the recommendation of health officials. Boulder Valley elementary students also returned to in-person classes.
Jeff Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, said children 9 and younger have the lowest incidences of new COVID-19 cases. As kids get older, there is a larger chance they will spread the virus, Zayach said.
The increased risk of a COVID-19 spread among older children is another reason why the health department recommended to both districts that middle and high school students adhere to a hybrid schedule of learning, Zayach said.
St. Vrain middle and high school students will begin the semester remotely and return to hybrid learning on Monday and Jan. 19, respectively, Haddad said.
Students also will return to buildings that are cleaned during the day and night. Sanitation stations will be in the schools and students, teachers and staff members will stick to mask and social distancing protocols, Haddad said.
Schools also will be opened up on Fridays for grades six through 12 so students can work with peers in libraries and other parts of the building, Haddad said.
The district is offering additional academic support through the year, including extending the school year during the summer for students who want to catch up academically on a volunteer basis, he said.
“We’re trying to do everything in our power to help our students to move forward,” Haddad said.
Dr. Chris Urbina, Boulder County Public Health’s chief medical officer, also apologized for making the controversial decision to shut down high school wrestling in the district.
Despite the Colorado High School Activities Association winning variances from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and state officials for winter sports and activities to begin practice on Jan. 18, county officials decided wrestling could not go forward in St. Vrain and Boulder Valley school districts, BoCoPreps.com reported earlier this week.
Urbina said the move was made because wrestling is such a “face-to-face” sport and the danger of spreading COVID-19 infection between participants is too high.
“This was a very painful decision,” said Urbina, who wrestled as a youth. “Many kids have trained very hard. But I just don’t think wrestling fits into the picture right now.”