Soroco schools close for break early as COVID-19 cases force many teachers to quarantine |

Soroco schools close for break early as COVID-19 cases force many teachers to quarantine

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Soutt Routt School District is closing all its schools a week early for winter break as recent cases of COVID-19 have caused many students and staff to quarantine.

When internal contact tracing identified several teachers that would need to quarantine, it became unrealistic to continue in-person learning. In one building, 10 of 13 teachers may be required to quarantine, according to Rim Watson, district superintendent.

Members of the district’s administration and school board met Friday to discuss how to appropriately address the situation, ultimately opting to close for break a week early.

“We are going to go ahead and use the opportunity of this week before our holiday break to do our part to make sure that we are responsive to the COVID-19 increase,” Watson said. “I don’t know realistically if I could have had school anyway because of all the teachers that are in quarantine and no way to get (substitute teachers) behind them.”

This is not a switch to virtual instruction for a week though because Watson said it didn’t make sense to switch for such a short time. The only exception is some high school students who have final or midterm exams.

Soroco schools will reopen after break Jan. 4 with full in-person instruction.

The district was notified of several positive cases within the schools and has alerted parents whose children were in the same room as a positive case.

Steamboat Springs High School transitioned to remote learning in November after a superspreader event led to nearly 20 cases among students. The high school has since transitioned back to the hybrid model all schools in the district are using. They will explore sending younger students back to school full-time in January.

For Watson, this week and winter break will allow for enough time for teachers and students to carry out quarantine orders and start school in-person again.

“Decisions made will affect the safety of all our students and teachers as we commit to returning to full in-person instruction on Jan. 4,” Watson wrote in a post on the district’s Facebook page.

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