Superintendent Letter to Families 10/21/20

October 21, 2020

Dear Families

As noted in earlier communication our schools are operating in a remote mode today due to two different positive sets of COVID19 cases being identified yesterday.  Yesterday Public Health and the schools navigated the first known scenario at the high school.  After studying the connections and possible risks to individuals approximately 80 individuals were placed on quarantine. With such a high number connected to the case, public health and the schools agreed the entire high school program will operate in a remote mode through Monday, November 2, 2020. All high school students are scheduled to return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.  No other students or staff at the high school were identified as positive. Quarantine is not sick. Quarantine is a safety strategy to reduce the potential spread of the disease. All SHS families that were identified as at-risk were directly contacted by our school nurse before 4pm yesterday.  If you were not called, you do not need to take specific action.

Please take a moment to read the 10/21/20 letter from Chaffee County Public Health regarding specifics of yesterday and quarantine.

Late in the afternoon a second set of positive cases of COVID 19 were identified. Initial review of the case showed potential connections at Longfellow, Salida Middle School and Crest Academy. At that time the district placed all schools on remote learning for today, October 21, 2020, so that we could closely investigate the connections, evaluate the risks, and make contact with families.  The intent is that by the end of today the district will be able to inform families and the community regarding decisions on how to move forward in the remainder of schools.  Again, a school nurse will directly call families if a known risk is identified. All calls will be made by 4pm or earlier.  We will send out a follow-up communication this afternoon/evening as soon as the complete story is settled.  Your schools will provide communication this morning to guide you through remote learning. Thank you for your patience.

At this time the virus’s spread has begun through community transmission, meaning the exact source cannot be identified.  Others in our community are struggling with reducing the spread, and our statistical numbers are not trending in a good direction.  I know there is fatigue in living in a manner of protection from the virus.  Physically distancing, masks, frequent hand washing, staying home when symptomatic, and getting tested are exhausting activities to maintain over the long-term.  This morning I am asking you to stay strong that is what we can do.  In addition, we are asking families to honor quarantine requests.  There is no quarantine police any more than there is a siren over the bathroom to identify who failed to wash their hands. Please honor the requests.  Give a phone call for help in getting groceries, paying bills, or finding other solutions. Salida is a community, and community means a helping hand.  You may be stuck in your house, but you are not alone.  These conversations create anxiety in us.  Reach out to others and share your burdens.

We made it 10 out of 36 weeks before what we expected actually occurred. This is not a surprise. Now we will respond in ways that we planned. Salida and Poncha Springs can do this–we have to.  In-person instruction is essential for our kids and represents far more than our larger community.  These pauses are a way for us to find a path back to safely offering in-person instruction. We are going to continue to press forward, please join us.


David Blackburn

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