We are paying close attention to developments regarding COVID-19 locally, as well as across the nation. Community risk data are headed in the wrong direction in Larimer County, as seen on the health department’s dashboard. On Monday night, the 14-day case rate surpassed more than 300 cases per 100,000, compared with 86 when we announced a shift in August back to remote education.
The ripple effects of community spread are putting a strain on our ability to maintain safe environments and provide a continuity of education for all students. Families should be prepared that we may have to scale back in-person learning if these concerning community conditions do not improve.
Monitoring county, PSD data
PSD staff continue to consult with Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) officials and have continued to affirm our plans to operate in Phase 3. They, too, are concerned about our county’s current conditions.
If things continue as they are, we will release a plan to transition to remote learning, given the acceleration of the spread of COVID-19 in our community. This is not the direction we want to go because students do better – socially and emotionally – when they are in school.
This Saturday, the LCDHE reported 192 new cases of COVID-19, up from LCDHE's previous highest-day total of 90 cases two weekends ago. Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 2, PSD had recorded 61 cases of COVID-19 among its roughly 3,000 employees and 27,000 students (this does not include charter school data). More information is available on PSD’s COVID-19 School Status and Information web page.
As we’re made aware of cases, PSD staff consult with LCDHE about the appropriate response.Each case presents different factors. Responses can range from a determination of no possible exposure, to student and staff shifting to remote education for a case assessment while LCDHE and PSD staff identify close contacts, to close contacts quarantining once identified.
PSD, LCDHE response to cases
Like other districts, PSD has been shifting dozens of students and staff with possible exposure to remote education during Initial Assessment Periods. These four-day periods cover the hours, and sometimes days, it takes LCDHE and PSD response teams to identify close contacts.
LCDHE has two contact tracers assigned to PSD who are working nights and weekends to support PSD investigations. LCDHE can’t feasibly devote its entire contact tracing efforts to PSD alone – nor should they have to. LCDHE is hiring 10 more contact tracers and we have beenmaking internal adjustments to increase the district’s capacity to investigate cases, but it will take time for all those resources to come online and lessen strains on both organizations.
Although critical, shifting to remote for assessments disrupts teaching and learning.
LCDHE officials believe our protocols and quick shifts to remote education for investigations have helped minimize outbreaks. They say they are NOT seeing communitywide spread (from students to students, or staff to students) in schools across the county or at the state level. That said, our goal is to create a situation that is sustainable. Our current situation is not.
Keep NoCo Open: What you can do to maintain in-person education
With critical health protocols in place at schools, we are doing our best to keep students and staff safe. And as an institution funded by taxpayer dollars, it is our responsibility to educate students – regardless of the method.
Be part of the Keep NoCo Open campaign (Watch the video)! We need you – the parents, staff, students and the community – to help us stay open by following the three W’s: wear a mask,watch your distance and wash your hands. Monitor for symptoms in your family and stay home if you feel ill or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. And if you are ill, follow the PSD Return to Learn guidance. We need families to be upfront about their exposure, even if it is inconvenient to stay home.
More information about PSD’s COVID-19 response, including protocols, meal distribution, mental health resources and more, is available through the 2020-21 School Year web page and other resources on the PSD website, click on the yellow "COVID" button at the top of the home page.
We hope your families are healthy and well and will continue to communicate with our PSD community moving forward.