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The Salida School Board held their monthly meeting on February 9 where they discussed COVID-19 updates and listened to input directly from Horizons Exploratory Academy students.

The principal of Horizons Exploratory Academy, Talmage Trujillo, brought his computer around during the meeting so the board could hear student updates directly from them. “I’ve given them suggestions but most of this is their own words, so get ready for some honesty,” said Trujillo.

Topics covered by students encompassed how much they appreciate their counselors, their roles in leadership groups at the school, impacts of COVID-19 on the school, the school’s use of self-paced learning, and more. Over the past months, Board members have mentioned how they missed interacting with students in this capacity.

Another highlight of the meeting was the COVID-19 update given by Superintendent David Blackburn. He began the update by thanking teachers and staff for their role in keeping schools open. “It is a unique thing in America to have what we’ve had for our kids,” said Blackburn.

Salida School District Building. Photo by Brooke Gilmore.

“Sometimes it’s a step forward and it’s two steps back but everyone has figured out how to rally and continue through the things,” he added.

There is still no evidence that COVID-19 exposures are happening at school and the quarantines that the district places students on for various reasons come from true community transmission. They continue to react with quarantines to mitigate the spread.

Blackburn also highlighted the work that the nurses have done to allow students to stay in-person. The district has not opted into the at-home tests that were recently unveiled by Governor Polis because of success they have had with the local supply of tests that is managed by the nurses.

On Friday, Feb. 12, the Salida School District staff is scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccines. Those who receive their shots on Friday will receive their second dose on March 5. This includes not just teachers, but all staff of the district.

While neither the school district nor the county is requiring that staff take the COVID-19 vaccine, there are open spots and Blackburn is adamant about using all the vaccines for those who interact with students and kids. “We are way ahead of other school districts,” said Blackburn. “We’re out in front and that’s what the plan was to be.”

The Buena Vista School District staff will also receive their vaccines this Friday and the county has a total allotment of 450 doses between the two school districts.  “I am happy, and I think we will make it through the end of this year,” said Blackburn.

The board also spoke about the potential of combining the Crest and Horizon campuses. Both are alternative schools that have their own unique communities, and it is important for the schools that these unique community environments remain. The board voted to approve a lease agreement for a property located at  627 Oak in Salida that will allow for a shared campus in the future.