In mid-December, Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Brian Ewert penned a letter to Littleton Public Schools staff and parents in which he provided plans about how the school district would re-open for in-person learning.
In the letter, Ewert admitted a grim reality that he says health experts and politicians have failed to address.
ôWe agree that schools are safe and the COVID transmission rates in school are low. But, health experts and politicians fail to address the real reason why schools are not open: schools do not have enough staff members available (including substitutes, bus drivers and nutrition services personnel) to come to school every day to support in-person learning,ö Ewert wrote in the Dec. 14 letter. ôStaff cannot come to school because they have been infected with COVID within the community, have been included in quarantines, or have symptoms of other seasonal illnesses like the common cold and influenza.ö
One month after Ewertĺs letter, Littleton Public Schools and other school districts throughout the state are back in class. Toward the end of last year, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said tools like on-site testing, symptom screening, mask-wearing, handwashing and more will leverage schools to return to in-person learning.
School districts like Denver Public Schools are still offering a 100 percent remote-learning option for all k-12th grade students whose families choose to have their children stay at home. Students in the district began returning to in-person learning on Jan. 11 while secondary students began a gradual phase-in to in-person learning on Jan. 19.
Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study led by Karolinska Institute researchers saying that serious COVID-19 cases, in which people who are infected need treatment in an intensive care unit, is rare among children despite schools being open during the pandemic. The study focused on schools in Sweden that were open from March 1 to June 30 of last year. At the time, wearing face coverings was not required in Sweden, but physical distancing was encouraged. The study found that 69 children died from March to June of last year, and none of the deaths were caused by the virus.
As of Jan. 20, 78 schools and eight universities have reported current coronavirus outbreaks, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Outbreaks are defined as two or more cases connected to a place or event.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend for parents to check with their child each morning for signs of the virus. If children have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, they should not go to school. Additionally, parents are encouraged to review and practice proper hand washing techniques with their children at home.