School District 51 officials provided updates on COVID-19 in schools and the possibility for a fall season for high school football during Tuesday night’s meeting of the board of education.
There have been six positive COVID-19 cases in the district and two classes have been quarantined, district officials revealed. One of the quarantines is because of a teacher testing positive for COVID-19 and the other was for a teacher who later tested positive for pneumonia.
“Three students have tested positive and three teachers have tested positive as well,” said Tanya Marvin, coordinator of nursing services for District 51. “We need them to be in quarantine for the full 14 days. We had one student test positive on the 12th day, so it’s important to cover the full incubation period.”
The district also confirmed with the board that it has a grant with Colorado Mesa University to utilize the school’s saliva and wasterwater COVID-19 testing services.
Superintendent Diana Sirko said that having six positive cases this deep into the year is an achievement.
Those low numbers could be paving the way for the return of more high school sports. In fact, there could be a decision on high school football as soon as today, said Paul Cain, director of athletics and activities.
The Colorado High School Activities Association’s initial plan for sports in a COVID world was to divide the school year into four phases, with football only being played in the spring during Season C. However, a new possibility would bring football into both Season A and C.
“Best case scenario is that the Governor’s COVID response team gives us the OK (today),” Cain said. “There’s so much that can change, though. The CHSAA Board could say it’s not comfortable with football. There’s about a 50/50 chance a decision is made by Thursday morning.”
If football is given the green light for the fall, then schools will have to declare for either Season A or Season C within 24 hours of the announcement, Cain said.
District 51 schools are eyeing the former but that’s not a state-wide trend. School districts that have not returned to in-person learning will likely be applying for Season C, including Denver Public Schools, Aurora Public Schools and Boulder Valley Schools, Cain said.
Because of that, scheduling would be restricted to other Western Slope schools. There’s a chance 500 people will be allowed in stadiums at one time, he added, and that will severely limit how much of the public can actually attend.
“It’s not going to look the same,” Cain said.
The board also took many public comments from parents voicing frustrations about Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ flags allegedly hung in classrooms, saying that doing so pushes politics onto students.
“Politics do not belong in the schools and neither does sexual orientation,” said Brandi Power, a parent of two District 51 students. “And if teachers are teaching that, they’re failing.”
The next board meeting will be on Sept. 29 at R-5 High School at 6 p.m. The meetings are open to the public but seating is limited.