Heritage High School is transitioning to all-online learning until Sept. 14 after a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Littleton Public Schools announced on Sept. 2. Tri-County …
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Heritage High School is transitioning to all-online learning until Sept. 14 after a staff member tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Littleton Public Schools announced on Sept. 2.
Tri-County Health Department investigators have determined 40 students and 20 staff members were “close contacts” and should quarantine for 14 days, according to a letter sent to parents.
The move comes a day after school officials told 60 students and five staff members to self-quarantine after a student tested positive for the virus.
Because Tri-County Health Department officials believe the two cases were contracted separately away from the school, the cases do not count as an outbreak, the letter says.
But because the two cases have forced about a third of Heritage's staff to quarantine, the school cannot provide enough staff or substitutes to supervise students on-campus, the letter says.
Heritage students, who had been attending in-person class two days a week, will transition to online versions of their classes, led by the same teachers.
The situation was not unexpected, said Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Brian Ewert, saying the district is following carefully developed protocols for responding to positive cases in schools.
“The plan is working,” Ewert said. “We don't like this, but we expected it to happen, and we're prepared. So far we have no other cases in any other district schools. Every day we stay in-person is a victory.”
Amanda Crosby, who heads the district's teacher's union, said the situation speaks to the difficulties schools face amid a wave of teacher retirements and a dearth of substitutes.
“In a time of an educator shortages, it is difficult to keep schools open when significant numbers of staff members get exposed,” Crosby said. “Because everyone was wearing masks, hopefully everyone's fine.”
In the letter to parents, Heritage principal Stacey Riendeau praised school staff.
“From the onset of these challenging times, we knew we all would need to be adaptable, flexible and ready to transition to new ways of teaching and learning at a moment's notice,” Riendeau's comments read in part. “I know our teachers have worked hard to learn necessary skills and adapt their teaching to provide their students a world class educational experience both in the classroom and virtually. We certainly hope this is a temporary obstacle to our students' ability to learn in person because we know that socialization and personal relationships make an enormous difference in helping our students find success.”
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