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While the plan was for all Buena Vista School District students to return to in-person learning after the Thanksgiving break, all of Buena Vista High School and a kindergarten classroom were placed into remote learning through Friday, Dec. 4.

On Saturday, Nov. 28, a household with confirmed positive cases was reported to the district with contacts at the high school and Avery Parsons Elementary. As a result, the school district worked with Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) to trace those who may have been in close contact with the individuals. It was determined that a significant percentage of students were identified as close contacts of the two, same-household cases at the high school. The cases were of the same household at Avery Parsons, so transmission is not considered widespread at this time.

“As hard as we tried to maintain in-person learning for most at the high school, it just was not effective,” wrote Superintendent Lisa Yates. “The full shift at the high school is not a result of confirmed cases or known transmission, but because the guidance used to determine close contacts resulted in a high percentage of students who would not be able to attend school. For staff to provide instruction simultaneously in-person and remotely is not an effective model for either teacher or learner. For this reason, Buena Vista High School will have remote learning from Nov. 30-Dec. 4, with the hope this will also allow a strong in-person finish to the semester.”

Yates said the situation was “just at the edge of making it challenging to run remote learning and in-person.”

This comes as Chaffee County girds to move into Level Orange status on Dec. 4 and as many schools throughout Colorado shift to remote learning after Thanksgiving break. Several large districts are seeing personnel shortages as teachers and other staff juggle the challenges between quarantines and providing both in-person and remote learning.

Yates said the shift to the Orange level does not mean that the schools necessarily need to make changes such as hybrid or completely remote learning, and noted that schools have not been a large source of transmission thus far. “That shift in levels does not change what schools need to do automatically,” she said at Monday evening’s schools update.

She noted that the district had been planning throughout the summer for periodic shifts into remote learning and that “this is not like remote learning in the spring,” where schools and students were working with new circumstances and were not completely in sync with at-home schooling.