A positive COVID-19 test by a senior and a presumptive positive test by a 10th grader at Animas High School has led the school to go to all-remote, online learning for both grades.
AHS Head of School Sean Woytek said one cohort from each grade has been quarantined after a 12th grader tested positive and a 10th grader is presumed positive for the novel coronavirus after a sibling tested positive.
Twelve students are in each cohort.
In addition, eight teachers, four in each grade, are in quarantine because they were exposed to the students in question.
Because the teachers are in quarantine, Woytek said the easiest logistical way to handle the situation was to go to all-remote learning for the 10th and 12th grades with the quarantined teachers leading their classes from their homes.
“With the teachers under quarantine, it makes sense to have the entire grade level home,” he said.
The school’s parents, staff members and teachers have agreed they want to err on the side of caution in dealing with the risk of the novel coronavirus, and going to all-remote learning was the prevalent view among the AHS community, he said.
“We’re being a little bit overly cautious. We want to make sure that we’re not spreading anything within our own school,” he said.
The 12th grade class will return to campus Oct. 29.
The 10th grade class will return to campus Nov. 2.
The school uses a blended model of learning with three days of remote learning and two days of in-person learning. Under the normal schedule, ninth and 10th graders are on campus Mondays and Tuesdays and 11th and 12th graders are on campus Thursdays and Fridays.
The senior in question tested positive over the weekend, Woytek said. The 10th grader who is presumed positive has been tested and results are expected in the next day or two.
A drive-thru COVID-19 testing site was set up by Cedar Diagnostics in the AHS parking lot from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday for students, parents, teachers, staff members and administrators. Woytek estimated more than 40 people were tested.
As of Tuesday evening, no one else had so far tested positive for the virus, Woytek said.
Woytek said AHS is working with San Juan Basin Public Health on contact tracing.
Claire Ninde, SJBPH spokeswoman, said in a news release La Plata and Archuleta counties have reported a significant rise in COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks.
Since the start of October, SJBPH has reported an increase of more than 72 cases in residents from both counties, with 63 of the cases from La Plata County, and nine from Archuleta County.
Increased cases can be attributed to workplace outbreaks, social gatherings and household transmissions, she said.
Ninde said SJBPH urges all community members to continue to practice important public health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:
Staying at home as much as possible.Practicing physical distancing – staying at least 6 feet away from another person.Wearing face coverings in public.Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes.Getting tested should anyone exhibit symptoms or suspect an exposure to someone with the virus.Safe COVID-19 practices are especially important during Halloween and the holiday season, and as social events move indoors as the weather gets colder, Ninde said.