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District returns to in-person/hybrid learning on Jan. 25

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Dear Five Star Community,

As we reach mid-January, we want to thank the Five Star community for doing its part to make the return to in-person/hybrid learning a reality as previously planned. 

We’re pleased to share that, at this time, case rates in our community are stable and trending downward. We are now at/approaching the level where we believe we can bring students and staff back into school buildings and provide for the continuation of in-person/hybrid learning with minimal disruptions.

We look forward to welcoming our in-person/hybrid students (grades P-12) back to their school buildings Monday, Jan. 25. As a reminder, a full-time remote learning option remains available for the remainder of the school year for those who chose it.

See below important new updates that will allow us to maintain continuity of learning. 

Changes to Quarantine Guidelines

Recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates quarantines for individuals exposed to COVID-19 can now be reduced from 14 days to 7 or 10 days. See analysis conducted by CDC scientists that indicates a significantly lower possibility of virus transmission after certain time periods. 

Given this new guidance, the district will transition to a 10-day quarantine for students. The district selected to follow the 10 day quarantine for students because of the logistical challenges related to the additional verification work required by public health to confirm an individual is cleared to end a quarantine earlier. For additional information on the quarantine process and the new public health quarantine guidance effective January 2021, please visit Student Quarantine Resources.

As we move forward, we want to remind you that the COVID-19 Quarantine and Data Tracker is an easy way to monitor student and staff quarantines within our schools and to monitor case data on COVID-19 in our school district and the communities we serve.

Simultaneous Instruction at the Secondary Level (Grades 6-12)

New this semester, the hybrid model at the secondary level will now have four days of synchronous instruction (live/teacher-led). When hybrid learning resumes, student cohort groups will have two in-person classroom days and two days where they join instruction remotely through a classroom live stream. 

Staff has the equipment and training to provide simultaneous instruction, allowing students and staff to navigate between in-person and remote learning at all times seamlessly. 

COVID Testing Opportunities

District students and their families have convenient access to a free COVID testing site at Mountain Range High School, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Testing is quick, easy and results will be available within three days (24 to 48 hours after the lab receives test samples). You can sign up for a testing appointment at any time

As a reminder, there are a number of benefits to participating in regular COVID testing including:

  • The opportunity for improved continuity of education and for schools to minimize quarantine-related staffing shortages

  • Lower the probability of virus transmission

  • Provide the district better tracking of COVID positivity data within our district

In addition to encouraging frequent testing of staff and students, the district is exploring additional initiatives such as voluntary random saliva-based COVID testing at schools, and BinaxNOW - “at home” rapid tests for staff and/or students. 

Staff Vaccinations

As some of you may be aware, Gov. Polis announced over winter break that school staff and educators would move up to category 1B on the state vaccine distribution plan. This shift moved educators up on the list from an original April/May timeline to early March

Currently the district has partnered with public health and healthcare providers to make early doses available to our staff above the dotted line in category 1B (i.e. school nurses and health aides, and district staff age 70 and older). Additionally, in collaboration with our public health partners we have provided multiple opportunities for district staff to sign up to receive a vaccine when it becomes available. 

Graphic stressing health and safety guidelines

Onward Together

Although the decline/stabilization in case numbers is promising, we want to remind you that it remains important to be vigilant in following all safety protocols that have served schools well in limiting in-school transmission. Following these health and safety protocols give us the best opportunity to continue to provide a safe and consistent learning environment for all students, staff and families.