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COVID on the Rise in Kiowa County; Closes Schools until after Thanksgiving

By Betsy Barnett

2020-11-20 18:53:51

Over the past week Kiowa County has seen a significant rise in positive COVID cases as their numbers more than doubled from a total of 8 last week to 15 by the end of this week.  The results of the rise in cases affected the Eads School District right away.  First, on November 7 the high school was quarantined for 14 days resulting in the football team having to take a ‘no contest’ in the final week of the regular season.  Then, at the end of last week, on November 13, it was announced that the 3rd-5th grade cohort had a positive case and was forced to quarantine for 14 days.  Once the second quarantine occurred in a second cohort, Superintendent Glenn Smith decided to close the school until after Thanksgiving.  Eads is scheduled to be back to in-person instruction on Monday, November 30. 

In a video message to the school community, Smith indicated there were four basic reasons for the decision to go remote until after the Thanksgiving break.  First, there are now two cohorts, the high school and the 3rd-5th grade, that are under quarantine but have different expiration dates.  In addition, the case in the 3rd-5th grade cohort was a direct case which presents a little higher level of concern for the rest of the staff and students.  Finally, the district felt that the 6 days of remote instruction would not have significant impact on the students’ education.

Remote school is in session on Monday, November 16.  The PreK-2nd grade cohort parents should pick up their student’s curriculum packages on Monday between the hours of 9AM-10:30AM.  The 3rd-5th grade cohort will be online and will need to pick up packages and chromebooks from 10:30AM-Noon.  Finally, the 6th-8th cohort students can access their lockers in the following schedule on Monday: 8th graders from 9AM-10AM; 7th graders from 10AM-11AM; and 6th graders from 11AM-Noon.  During the remote instruction, teachers will take daily attendance and students will be expected to meet all requirements communicated by the teacher.

Smith also indicated that the area superintendents had sat in on a Zoom meeting on Thursday with Gov. Polis’ office.  They indicated that in-person instruction is deemed as an essential service in Colorado.  Smith said, “Therefore, moving forward, the cohorts will continue in-person instruction when they are not quarantined, and school will continue regardless of any quarantines that may come and go.”

On Thursday, Governor Polis also called for a Return to Level 1 Emergency Response to COVID-19 Increases.

He stated, “I will never give up on Coloradans and I know we have the resolve to do what is necessary to defeat this virus. Cases and hospitalizations have continued rising with over 1100 Coloradans currently hospitalized for COVID,” said Governor Polis. “We simply must do a better job of wearing masks, physically distancing and avoiding social interactions with those outside our households. It’s up to us, Colorado, the time for change is now.”

The Governor announced that given the rise in cases across our state, he has ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to return to level 1. This is the highest level of operation and brings together all state agencies, federal partners and the voluntary organizations that serve the State’s communities in crisis. At this level, the EOC can better coordinate and synchronize the State’s response to the pandemic.

Kiowa County joins Bent, Baca, Cheyenne and Lincoln counties who are currently maintaining a Blue (Level 1) Cautious status on the Dial framework.  Level 1 represents the least restrictions in the Safer at Home level of security.  However, the county’s positive cases have risen substantially over the week, but still are under the <25 level the state reports.  The state data indicates Kiowa County may have one individual in the hospital at this time. 

There are some bigger counties in the area that have moved to the Level 3 Orange, or High Risk, category on the Dial.  They include the counties of Prowers, Otero, Crowley, Pueblo, and Kit Carson.

The testing systems continue to become faster in diagnosis as nearly 1.5 million Coloradoans have been tested.  Of those tested, 159,234 have been a positive case.  There are currently 2,234 deaths in the state.  The main concern is the increase in hospitalizations in recent weeks. 

There are a number of local agencies who can answer your concerns or questions.  Mr. Smith can be accessed at 719-438-2216, the Eads Medical Clinic at 719-438-2251, or the local health department at 719-336-8721 or 719-438-5782.

Addition to the Story:  Late this afternoon the Independent learned that Plainview is also in remote learning at this time.  Two teachers in the district have tested positive which puts the junior high and high school cohorts in quarantine.  Plainview is scheduled to return to direct instruction on Monday, November 30.

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