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While coronavirus case numbers are rising in Boulder and Weld counties, the health data indicators used by the St. Vrain Valley School District continue to support in-person learning, Superintendent Don Haddad told the school board Wednesday.

But, he cautioned, the trends are not favorable and more quarantines from positive and probable cases are expected.

“It’s a very stressful time for people,” he said. “We are just going to keep walking through it until we are told otherwise by the health department.”

Haddad also read a letter from Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach supporting the continuation of the district’s hybrid model. Students attend two days in person, attend live classes remotely two days and have one day to finish assignments independently and ask questions during office hours.

Because of rapidly rising case numbers in other parts of the state, Zayach wrote, Boulder County can no longer get extra help with contact tracing from the state and will need additional help from the school district to find all those who need to quarantine. Haddad said the district hired additional nurses who will fill that need.

In St. Vrain, there are currently 25 confirmed cases among students and eight among staff members. Haddad said 520 students and staff members also are quarantined, while total of 1,236 students and staff members have been quarantined to date.

When asked about including quarantine data by school on the district’s coronavirus dashboard by board member Richard Martyr, Haddad said he’s concerned it will create confusion in the community because quarantine numbers are often mistakenly equated with positive cases. But, he said, he will add the information.

“There’s going to be a lot of confusion around it, but we’ve got to keep moving forward,” he said. “I don’t want to have a debate about it.”

As with the districtwide quarantine numbers, the plan is to update the school-by-school quarantine numbers once a week, on Fridays. Parents had been requesting school level numbers, saying that data would help them make decisions about in-person learning and increase transparency.

Haddad noted other factors that could contribute to a school or the district moving to remote include the district’s ability to cover for quarantined teachers — so far accomplished with a combination of substitutes, administrators and other teachers taking on extra classes. Then there’s teacher fatigue and stress.

“There are also human elements we have to take into consideration,” he said.

Acknowledging the need for additional support for students, Deputy Superintendent Jackie Kapushion said the district will offer afterschool academic help at all schools starting next week.

Hours and days available will vary by school, with individual and small group sessions taught by teachers and counselors. Students who need extra help will be invited to attend, but the sessions will be open to all students.

At the elementary level, the focus will be on literacy help. At the secondary level, the focus will be on understanding core content, completing assignments and studying for tests. At all levels, counselors may lead sessions to provide additional social and emotional support and foster student connections.

St. Vrain students also likely saw their only snow day this winter when both in-person and remote classes were canceled Monday. Haddad said teachers and families soon will receive a plan for at-home learning in the event the district needs to cancel in-person school again because of bad weather.

If there’s another snow day, he said, “students can continue their learning at home.”

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