In the days before in-classroom instruction for the 2020-2021 school year began at Chaparral High School, news broke that well over 100 students had taken part in an unauthorized "Senior Sunrise" event at a local park — and shortly thereafter, an attendee tested positive for COVID-19.
The latest: Chaparral, which is part of Douglas County School District, has been partly quarantined after "a person at our school...developed a fever and another symptom commonly associated with COVID-19," according to an August 31 email to parents and staffers.
The number of students and employees affected isn't specified, but multiple classrooms are cited as under quarantine. However, instruction for other classrooms will go on as scheduled.
Although Senior Sunrise had been a school-sponsored event at Chaparral since 2013 under principal Greg Gotchey, the 2020 version was canceled because of health concerns. Nonetheless, numerous seniors took it upon themselves to stage an unauthorized version on August 12 at Parker's Challenger Regional Park, alerting students through social media. A professional photographer was engaged to commemorate the occasion, taking shots showing 100-plus mask-free students crammed together shoulder to shoulder.
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For months, Governor Jared Polis has urged Coloradans in general, and teens and twenty-somethings in particular, to forgo attendance at large events under the theory that a person with COVID-19 at a party of ten or fewer people might only pass the disease on to one or two others, whereas a carrier at a big throng could infect dozens. Yet this advice remains deeply controversial in some quarters, as witnessed by the "Stop the COVID Chaos" rally scheduled to take place at Bandimere Speedway tonight, September 1.
As for the Chaparral email, it makes no mention of Senior Sunrise — and plenty of other Colorado schools have had to take action related to concerns about infections from the novel coronavirus. Our August 24 COVID-19 roundup mentioned seven elementary, secondary or post-secondary facilities that had instituted quarantine or isolation regimens of some kind; by our August 31 update, that total had risen to 23.
Now you can add Chaparral to the list. Here's the email sent from the Douglas County School District yesterday:
August 31, 2020
Dear Chaparral High Families and Staff,
We recently learned that a person at our school has developed a fever and another symptom commonly associated with COVID-19. We are working with the Tri-County Health Department and will continue to partner with them as we monitor this situation.
The person exhibiting these symptoms is in isolation. This person was in various classrooms in our school. As a result, the students from those classrooms, as well as some staff members, have been identified as close contacts with this person and they will go into quarantine. Those identified as close contacts have received additional information from our school and the Tri-County Health Department.
While they are quarantined, students in the impacted classes will transition to virtual learning and staff will provide more information to those families soon. All other classrooms and all other grades can attend school as scheduled. In alignment with Tri-County Health Department guidelines, siblings of the quarantined students can still go to school unless their sibling gets sick or tests positive for COVID-19.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache/body aches and new loss of taste or smell. If you have a concern, please contact your medical provider for guidance.
Our school is being disinfected by DCSD’s operations team before classes resume on Tuesday. To learn more about DCSD’s health and safety mitigation measures, please visit this website. We will also continue to follow recommendations found on the Colorado Department of Education’s COVID-19 resources for schools page.
Thank you for doing your part in keeping our students and staff healthy and safe.
Health, Wellness and Prevention Team
Douglas County School District