Public Health Meets with Schools About Reopening Plans

Public Health Meets with Schools About Reopening Plans

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Grace Franklin, County Public Health Director.

Public Health officials are prioritizing the need for a safe learning environment, and are working with local schools to consider how to protect children in the age of COVID.

Over the past month, Public Health has been meeting with the Telluride and Norwood School Districts, and Telluride Mountain School administrative teams to discuss plans for the 2020-2021 school year, with the goal of getting children back to school as safely as possible. Discussions have included the health benefits of in-person school attendance out-weighing the health risks, if proper measures are taken and with best practices in place. County-wide school districts are working closely with Public Health to develop comprehensive plans and protocols to ensure students, teachers and staff are safe when school reopens in mid-August.

Significant changes will be made to the traditional in-school learning model to facilitate best practices. Areas of focus include the structure of classes and cohort grouping, transportation, use of masks and other protective equipment, as well as daily logistics. Each school within the County will have a unique approach to addressing the safety and learning needs of their students.

“I’m confident in the schools’ implementations of best practices to ensure a safe and healthy school year for the children of our community,” said Public Health Director Grace Franklin. “However, in our community we all rely on one another, so everyone has a stake in the success of the children in our schools. This is why families, our schools, and our community all need to work together to ensure children’s success.”

Telluride School District Superintendent John Pandolfo stressed the importance of in-person learning, and urged parents and students to be vigilant about following the “Five Commitments of Containment” to ensure kids are back in the building this August.

“Our priority is to open our schools for in-person learning, as it is proven to be most beneficial for our children,” said Pandolfo. “But, the safety of our students and staff is most important, and we are prepared to be nimble with our plans based on health metrics. As we approach the start of school, it’s important that students and parents follow the ‘Five Commitments of Containment’ so that we can stay on track with in-person learning. Cover your face in public, maintain physical distance, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands often and stay home when you’re sick.”

With scientific data proving the efficacy of face masks, county-wide mask adherence will be essential in keeping children and staff in school and healthy. A key transmission route for COVID-19 is through respiratory droplets spread through speaking, coughing or sneezing, and research shows that face coverings over the mouth and nose drastically reduce the rate of infection. Since a portion of people carrying the COVID-19 virus aren’t symptomatic, universal mask usage is a critical component to containing the spread.

Public Health, the medical centers, and the school districts will continue to work together on safety protocol and implementation and will make adjustments as needed. The schools are prepared to move to remote learning or take a hybrid approach based on circumstances. Parents with concerns for children with healthcare needs are encouraged to address their needs directly with their school and healthcare providers.

1 Comment
  • Erika
    Posted at 07:40h, 20 July

    Forcing young children to wear masks remains a huge concern to me, especially given the governor’s mandate for indoor mask-wearing DOES not include chlidren 10 years and younger. At the very least, given the data we are seeing about young children’s rates of infection and severe illness/death, we should allow the youngest NOT to wear masks (unsafe for them to breathe CO2 for long periods, breathing into lungs bacteria that belongs in the mouth) and if teachers are concerned, then they should be wearing masks. This practice is completely within the lines of the governor’s mandate as well as the actual DATA that we are seeing. It is critical that we not put our children in greater danger through poor breathing and air quality.