This year has been hectic for school districts for an innumerable amount of reasons: online school, snow days, standardized tests, quarantines and more. All of these processes differ based on different districts, so let’s compare Douglas County with other districts across the state and country.
Douglas County is a part of Tri-County Health (at least, for now), meaning that Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas all have similar policies about school. The policies have changed rapidly over this school year in accordance with CDC guidelines. At the start of this school year, Douglas County high schools and most middle schools had three cohorts: one for half of the in-person, one for the other, and ELearners staying online. If a student or teacher tested positive in person, the entire class would have to quarantine for at least a week. It then changed to full remote learning after cases rose, following the same cohort policy. Then, after winter break, Tri-County Health, in accordance with the new CDC guidelines, switched to an all in person, with online still available. Now, if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19, only the people sitting near them have to quarantine. The quarantined student gets a COVID-19 test, and then they can come back to school. It is unsure how this process will change going into next school year, but leaders are hoping to have enough students and teachers vaccinated that a normal, all in person school year can take place.
These policies change in each county. More than half the counties in Colorado do not have local public health orders in place, meaning that some countries can open restaurants, gyms and more fully back. The Colorado Department of Education along with Governor Jared Polis have left those decisions in the hands of the county, but mandatory mask orders and social distancing must still be followed. In smaller counties, like Summit County, businesses and schools are trying to completely re-open. In these counties, however, cases are rising and they are having issues completely reopening. In most Colorado counties and schools, there are still quarantines, still COVID cases, and still online options. For more information about specific policies per county, visit the Colorado Department of Health and the Colorado Department of Education.
The difference between states is vastly more different and more complicated. President Biden issued an executive order that created a nationwide mask mandate, but that is set to expire soon. After that, it is completely up to the states, and some states have already begun opening everything back up. That means schools completely in person, with or without masks. Most blue states are sticking to some state government and CDC guidance about in-person learning, but some red states have decided to go back to normal. Colorado is not a state that is planning on completely reopening any time soon, so it is this modified school until at least the end of the year.
The current state of our schools is quarantining small groups, COVID test, mask wearing and will stay that way until the end of the school year. Together, if we wear our masks and continue to follow these guidelines, we can all get back to normal.
Frederic J. Brown, Time. Young students sitting and learning in a modified classroom wearing masks.
ABC 30 action news. Students learning from home due to all the COVID changes.