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SVVSD considers return to online only learning after Thanksgiving break

SVVSD will know more after next meeting with Boulder County Public Health which will be held on Nov. 18.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

St. Vrain Valley School District will consider a possible return to remote learning after a report from Boulder County Public Health, next week, because of rising COVID-19 cases in Longmont and stricter quarantine requirements, Superintendent Don Haddad said Wednesday night.

Jeff Zayach, executive director of Boulder County Public Health, is scheduled to update the school board on COVID-19 numbers at the Nov. 18 meeting, Haddad said. 

“The trend in Boulder County and across the state is not favorable, there has been a rapid rise in the number of cases,” Haddad told the board. “It’s everywhere.”

St. Vrain began the school year with all students learning via remote and then switched to a hybrid model in October, with most students rotating between in-person learning and remote instruction during the week.

The recent hike in COVID-19 cases prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Boulder County Public Health to move to level Orange on the Colorado COVID Dial. The shift to Level Orange, calls for a change from targeted quarantining guidelines to a much broader standard quarantining protocols, the district said in an email last week.

The change is prompting more students and teachers to be put in quarantine, Haddad said. “We have seen a significant uptick in the number of students being quarantined in our schools and also an uptick in the number of teachers and staff,” Haddad said.

The bump in quarantines - although comparatively low - still hampers school operations and learning, he said. “This is something that is really challenging and at this point we don’t know if it is going to be sustainable,” Haddad said.

Currently, there are 1,393 students in quarantine along with 42 teachers and staff members, he said. Sixty-seven students have active COVID-19 cases as do five teachers and seven staff members, Haddad said.

St. Vrain last week announced it was adapting its hybrid model to allow students to opt out of in-person learning, Haddad said.

The district surveyed families of the 3,400 students in St. Vrain’s LaunchEd Virtual Academy - introduced this year for students who did not want to return to in-person classes - and all but 100 wanted to stay in the program through the rest of the school year, Haddad said.

He said he hopes to be able to inform parents of the district's next steps before Thanksgiving break to give families time to adjust to the change in time for December classes, if necessary.

“This is just a really sad situation" for students, teachers and families to go through, Haddad said.

“We’ll just hope this all changes sooner than later,” said board president Joie Siegrist.

Editor's note: This article has misleading and incorrect information on SVVSD's intention of returning to online learning. Jeff Zayack will is not expected to advocate for online learning. No decision by the district will be made at the Wednesday meeting for online learning. The meeting will be an update on the currently COVID numbers.