PSD COVID-19 update: Fossil Ridge shifts to Phase 1 remote learning

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Dear PSD staff and families,  

This afternoon, after much discussion with administration and LCDHE, the principal of Fossil Ridge High School announced that the school will shift to remote learning (Phase 1) from Friday, Nov. 13 through fall break (Nov. 29). 

Although difficult, this was the right decision to keep students and staff as healthy and safe as possible. I understand this news may be upsetting or even surprising. I want to be clear about the rationale and set the expectation that while Fossil Ridge is the first in PSD to close temporarily due to COVID-19 it will not likely be the last. 

Between Oct. 14 and the morning of Nov. 12, Fossil had 29 confirmed and six presumptive positive cases. Recently, Fossil met state health department criteria for school outbreak status, and the school has dozens of students and staff who are either shifted to remote learning during assessment periods for open cases or in quarantine after Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) issued orders to close contacts. We also have evidence of minimal spread, between students, in a couple of Fossil’s cases. These factors suggest increased risk, strain daily operations and result in a discontinuity in education. 

To be clear, Fossil is not shifting to remote education because their case count hit a specific number. Instead, staffing, current case counts and the rate of new cases, the number of staff and students currently out, and other considerations tie into this decision.  

Think of a 14-day shift to Phase 1 like hitting a reset button. Time away will cut off the virus’s ability to spread in a school and, we anticipate, slow the rate at which new cases would occur and minimize risk upon return to in-person learning. Other school districts along the Front Range have instituted similar 14-day closures and seen a reduction in cases as a result.  

This announcement likely also prompts bigger questions about where PSD is headed.  

In addition to the number of cases and case trends in PSD, we are monitoring county data through the lens of the Colorado COVID-19 Dial. The Dial consists of five levels that help local communities make decisions to balance economic and social activity while ensuring capacity to contain the virus. 

 

 

LEVEL GREEN
 
PROTECT OUR NEIGHBORS 

LEVEL BLUE 
SAFER AT HOME CAUTIOUS 

LEVEL YELLOW 
SAFER AT HOME CONCERN 

LEVEL ORANGE 
SAFER AT HOME HIGH RISK 

LEVEL RED 
STAY AT HOME 

P-12 SCHOOLS 

In-person suggested 

In-person suggested or hybrid, remote as appropriate 

In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate 

In-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate 

Remote suggested, very limited in- person when necessary 

 

Larimer County is currently at Level Yellow: Safer at Home Concern. At this level, the recommendation for schools is that they operate in-person, hybrid, or remote as appropriate. 

Based on the State of Colorado’s recently revised Dial, which was recently revised on Nov. 4, the district will soon announce corresponding benchmarks for when we would shift all schools to remote education. We will update our PSD community soon about what factors and data would lead to that decision. 

We know this has been a frustrating and trying year. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we work to keep students and staff as safe as possible. 

Sincerely,  

 

Sandra Smyser, Ph.D.  
Superintendent