Billie Martinez, Madison Elementary schools in Greeley closed due to COVID-19

A third and fourth school in Greeley-Evans School District 6 closed this week in favor of remote learning because of COVID-19, while six new cohorts at five other District 6 schools went into quarantine as of late Thursday afternoon according to district COVID-19 data.

Billie Martinez Elementary, a 416-student building for kindergarten through fifth grades on 14th Avenue, and Madison Elementary, a K-5 school with 287 students and staff on 24th Avenue, closed for two weeks on Wednesday, becoming the latest D6 buildings to shut down for quarantine during the ongoing pandemic.

District 6 Chief of Communications Theresa Myers said there was no school — in person or remote —  Thursday for Martinez and Madison students to give teachers and staff time to make the transition to begin remote learning on Friday.

The remote learning will continue until Sept. 23. Students will return to in-person learning at both schools on Sept. 24.

Two other schools, Jackson Elementary, a public school in Greeley, and Frontier Academy Elementary School, a public charter school in Greeley, are closed for remote learning through Sept. 14 and 15, respectively.

Myers said the district closed Martinez and Madison because approximately 20 percent of Martinez students (approximately 83 kids) were out ill with COVID-like symptoms on Wednesday, and 30 percent of students at Madison were out of school (approximately 86 students). Myers said none of the students had positive COVID-19 tests, though some students have pending tests.

“That’s a lot of sick kids so let’s shut it down and figure out what’s going on,” Myers said.

She added the district has encouraged families of students who are ill with COVID symptoms to get tested so the school system knows exactly what they are dealing with relating to the illnesses. Myers said families have not responded to district officials requests to seek tests “at the rate we need them to.”

“We need everyone who is sick with COVID-like symptoms to get a test,” Myers said. “Fever, cough, chills and short of breath.”

Also late Thursday afternoon, the district updated its cohort quarantine list to include students and staff at: Winograd K-8; a third mixed-grade cohort at Greeley Central; Greeley-Evans Alternative Program; a fourth cohort at Franklin Middle School; and two elementary school-grade cohorts at University Schools, a K-12 charter school.

There are 19 cohorts at 11 schools in quarantine, excluding cohorts at the four closed schools and all dating to Aug. 20 — three days after the start of the new school year.

As the district has experienced an increased number of cohort quarantines and school closures, Myers said every day district officials ask themselves at what point do they close up in-person learning and turn to remote education.

So far, this point, officials have not reached that point.

“We look at it overall, we still have most kids in school learning,” Myers said. “As long as the cohort system works, and the teachers are nimble to go to remote learning, I think we’ll stay the course because we think the community needs us to stay open.”

Myers said multiple factors would go into closing district schools including the number of positive cases in the district and how many people those individuals have exposed. Myers again said the district feels its protocols and prevention measures are effective overall.

“Masks are working,” Myers said. “We think the protocols inside the schools are working. We can’t control what goes on outside our walls.”

In an email late Thursday afternoon to District 6 families on the closures at Martinez and Madison, superintendent Deirdre Pilch wrote the district needs help from families to keep schools open. Pilch emphasized four conditions in which students must be kept home:

  • If the student is sick, especially if they have a fever of at least 100 degrees, chills, loss of taste and smell, a cough or shortness of breath.
  • If a student has two or more of these symptoms: Sore throat, runny nose or congestion, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • If a student is living in a household with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The student is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Pilch’s message also said families with a student who is sick with COVID-19 symptoms must call a doctor or clinic to get the student tested as soon as possible with a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test.

“This is important because without a test, it is impossible to know if your child has COVID-19 or something else,” Pilch wrote. “If the test is positive, then District 6 can take action to quarantine staff and students that may have been exposed to the virus. But if it is negative, your child may be able to return to school when they are feeling better, and their classmates and teachers may not have to be quarantined.”

The district also sent emails and letters home to families of Madison and Martinez students notifying them of the school closures and with information on how to proceed with remote learning.

The information to families at both schools also said students were issued Chromebooks (laptops) for remote learning, and teachers would contact families to discuss how and when to log on the computers.

Franklin Middle School’s fourth cohort in quarantine affects 18 sixth-grade students and five adults through Sept. 24.

Greeley Central now has 144 students in three mixed-grade cohorts in quarantine with the latest cohort added Thursday. The school on Sept. 4 sent 32 students and five adults into quarantine until Sept. 16. On Sept. 2, the school had its initial batch of quarantines with 60 students and two adults out of the building until after Sept. 12.

Source: Read Full Article