Officials at Westminster Public Schools had hoped a two-week break from in person learning would be enough to tamp down on problems from COVID-19, at least until after Thanksgiving. “We worked so …
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Officials at Westminster Public Schools had hoped a two-week break from in person learning would be enough to tamp down on problems from COVID-19, at least until after Thanksgiving.
“We worked so hard to try and stay in-person,” District spokesperson Stephen Saunders said in an e-mailed statement Nov. 14. “Until mid-day yesterday, that was still the plan.”
Students in all grades were scheduled to return to in-person learning Nov. 16. The district offered free tests to teachers and students from all grade levels and their families Nov. 11 and 12 at Westminster High School. Results from those tests won’t be available until later in the week, but the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the metro area convinced district officials to not take any chances, according to a written statement.
“Because of dangerously high COVID-19 levels in Adams County and indications that public health officials will order a new round of restrictions to try and slow the spread of the virus, Westminster Public Schools has made the difficult decision to suspend in-person learning through the winter break,” the statement read.
As of Nov. 15, Westminster Public Schools had 27 students and 26 staff members who had currently tested positive for COVID-19 and 109 students and 65 staff members in quarantine. Since Aug. 20, the district has had 106 students and 58 staffers test positive for the disease.
“We are aware that the return to full-time remote learning is not the ideal solution for staff or students, but given the circumstances, this is a very responsible step,” the statement said.
Westminster’s roughly 8,700 students returned to in-person classes Aug. 20 after a summer off. As instances of COVID-19 in the community and among students and teachers began increasing last month, Superintendent Pamela Swanson opted to send students home for two weeks Oct. 29. All classes, from K-12, were to be done remotely with the students scheduled to return to classes on Nov. 16.
“This was a difficult decision but a necessary one,” the statement said. “The in-person learning option WPS has offered its students since August 20 has been invaluable, and staff and students are better prepared than ever for the transition to full-time remote learning.”
The district will continue to provide school lunches for students, available weekdays at each school.
“Now more than ever, we need to be aware of how students are reacting to the stresses of COVID-19 and the impact not being in school has on their well-being,” the statement read.
The decision puts Westminster among the other Metro Denver School Districts responding to the Autumn spike of COVID-19 cases.
Mapleton School District’s Board of Education is scheduled to vote Nov. 17 on a plan to extend both the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks for students. If the board agrees, Thanksgiving break will begin Nov. 23 and with students returning for in-person classes on Dec. 7, extending students’ time off for the holiday by one week. Winter break would be extended by three days, beginning Dec. 21, with students returning to class on Jan. 8.
As of Nov. 15, Mapleton had 40 students and 18 staff confirmed positive for COVID-19 with 1,012 students in quarantine and 111 staff in quarantine. Since Aug. 20, the district has had 104 students test positive for the disease and 33 staff members.
The Adams 12 Superintendent Chris Gdowski announced Nov. 9 that all students would be doing remote learning from home through the end of the semester. Adams 12 had already sent students in grades 6-12 home in October and added preschool, elementary and career and technical students to the list of remote learners as COVID cases in Adams County worsened.
Classes for Denver Public School third-through-12 grades were all remote as of Nov. 12 and both Cherry Creek and Douglas County district’s were expected to move to full remote schedules.
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