School leaders want quarantine guidelines lifted

Elizabeth School District superintendent among signers of letter to CDPHE

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 5/3/21

Superintendents from 12 Colorado school districts penned a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment April 26, urging the department to rescind current school quarantine …

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School leaders want quarantine guidelines lifted

Elizabeth School District superintendent among signers of letter to CDPHE

Posted

Superintendents from 12 Colorado school districts penned a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment April 26, urging the department to rescind current school quarantine standards, citing low spread numbers in their districts from the classroom.

“What we’re trying to do, as superintendents, is to remove the quarantine for the schools,” said Elizabeth School District Superintendent Douglas Bissonette. “Our schools have been safer than other places in our community throughout the school year. Ninety-nine percent of kids we sent home under the quarantine policy never caught the virus.”

Bissonette said the school district has done a fine job of keeping COVID-19 at bay in the school district, and have followed strict safety protocols within the schools. The Elizabeth schools have been open to in-person learning all year long, with the exception of one week after Thanksgiving when the high school went to remote learning.

“We’re trying to avoid the quarantine carousel,” said Bissonette. “Currently, if a person is sick or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, they of course stay home. We do contract tracing and basically the only people who don’t come to school are those who either have been exposed or are sick.”

Under current guidelines, students in contact with an exposed student would be sent home to quarantine. Many have returned back to school, according to Bissonette, only to be sent back on quarantine a short time later, resulting in the “quarantine carousel,” which makes it more difficult for students to stay focused and learn.

“We know there’s a guaranteed negative impact for most students when they’re excluded from school and school events,” said Bissonette. “The precautionary safety measures are not commensurate with the almost guaranteed negative impact.”

The 12 superintendents outlined the harm done to students by going back and forth between quarantine and in-person learning, and relatively low numbers of cases found in those who were quarantined.

“The frequent school quarantines have caused constant disruption to classroom environments, stress for students preparing for end of year exams, and a lack of predictability and consistency in almost every facet of a student’s school experience,” the letter states. “If the existing quarantine rules remain in place as we head into the final month of the school year, we estimate that 10-20% of our students could find themselves sent home on quarantine at some time before summer break commences.”

According to Bissonette, school employees, teachers and students will continue to use safety precautions while in school, but are hoping the CDPHE will allow them to continue addressing the issue on a districtwide level.

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