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BVSD school board hears update on reintroduction plans

Health officials detail rising case numbers, but say schools not spreading virus

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Even as coronavirus cases are rising among all age groups in Boulder and Broomfield counties, local health officials told the Boulder Valley school board Tuesday that they continue to support the district’s in-person learning model.

“We are not seeing significant spread in the schools,” Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said, adding the cases in schools are coming from transmission within the larger community. “We know we have significant impacts on children when they are not in school.”

Boulder Valley’s elementary students attend in person four days a week. Middle schoolers attend in person two days a week, while high school students attend one day a week. When not in person, secondary students generally follow along with the in-person class from home. Mondays are a “launch” day, with all students learning independently from home so teachers can plan.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Zayach and Broomfield Public Health Nursing Administrator Helene Lanzer shared the rising case numbers that could potentially force their counties into the stricter Safer at Home Level 3.

State data shows Boulder County’s cumulative incidence — new cases per 100,000 in the past 14 days — was at 191.3 on Tuesday. Broomfield’s cumulative incidence was at 251.5 on Tuesday. Broomfield’s positivity rate also edged up more than 5%, while the goal is to stay under 5%.

Statewide, new rules now also limit all personal gatherings — inside or outside — to 10 or fewer people and two households, Zayach said.

“We’re going to get through this, but we have to stay diligent,” he said.

Two speakers urged the district to prioritize in-person learning.

Jeff Gaillard​, who has two elementary children in Lafayette, urged the district to include in decisions the data that show students 10 and younger don’t generally develop symptoms or transmit coronavirus to others.

Going back to remote only, he said, “​will significantly impair the ability of students to effectively learn.”

Parent Ashley Osborne​ asked the district to bring all students back full time, pointing to Boulder County numbers that show no deaths from the coronavirus for school-age students or young adults. In comparison, she said, deaths by suicide are rising for pre-teens and teens.

“We need to prioritize in-person school,” she said.

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