by Bill Knowles
TRINIDAD — During a special meeting Tuesday evening, the Trinidad School District #1 school board voted 5-0 to close the district schools from March 23-31. Students are currently on spring break. The closure comes on the heels of recommendations made by the Las Animas/Huerfano Counties Public Health Department hoping to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
Children ages 0-18 have the option to pick up free grab and go meals at the curbs of Fishers Peak Elementary or Trinidad Middle School, on Park Street, March 23-26 and March 30-31 from 11:00-1:00.
The district has taken precautions since the beginning of the flu season by holding student handwashing clinics. Students and staff were screened for flu symptoms and the schools were regularly disinfected and fogged.
At the onset of COVID-19, additional measures were taken. These included SchoolMessengar calls to parents directing them to the district website for updates and resources, increased fogging and disinfecting the schools and fogging the buses. Athletics has been postponed and the schools will remain closed until the end of March.
If and when school resumes, concerts, banquets, dances and graduation will be considered. And it is to be noted that state assessments are on hold.
Administrators and teachers are in the planning stages of three different models for remote learning: paper packets and worksheets for families without internet access, lessons that can be accessed via smartphones, and learning that can be done with full internet access and computers.
The onset of COVID-19 has also thrown a wrench into construction plans for the middle school and there is a possibility that the virus will stall out the project where material deliveries might be late as companies could see a loss of employees due to the virus.
Due to the uncertainty of the arc of COVID-19 infections and how they will affect the population, the district, in a press release dated March 17, said they will continue to seek the guidance of the Las Animas and Huerfano County Public Health Department along with the Colorado Department of Education on any changes in the opening and/or closing of schools. These future changes to schedules will be updated on the district website and parent notifications will be sent via SchoolMessenger.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The CDC and CDPHE recommend individuals and families follow:
Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
The CDC is NOT recommending masks for the general public.