Coronavirus

COVID at Denver and Douglas County Schools: Guess Where It's Worse

A large group of students staged a walkout at Thunderridge High School in Highlands Ranch on September 1 to protest the district's mask mandate.
A large group of students staged a walkout at Thunderridge High School in Highlands Ranch on September 1 to protest the district's mask mandate. CBS4 via YouTube
There's been relatively little controversy regarding a public-health order calling for indoor masking at Denver Public Schools, particularly when compared to the Douglas County School District, which had to file a lawsuit to prevent parents from easily evading the mandate. But even though the recently formed Douglas County Health Department changed its rules last week to exempt public schools from its opt-out rule, thereby negating the suit, many parents and students remain angry about the regulation, and four school board candidates who ran on a conservative slate that promoted masking choice will take office next week.

So how do the districts compare when it comes to COVID-19 cases at their respective facilities? Roughly a third of DPS schools have reported at least three infections over the past ten days, and the spread has been modest at most of them. In contrast, well over half of Douglas County schools have registered three or more COVID-19 cases during that time, and the number of infections is generally higher.

Leading the pack in Douglas County is Thunderridge High School, the site of a student walkout over masking in early September. The school has experienced 27 COVID-19 cases during the past ten days, and 33 in the previous two weeks.

As of November 18, the Denver Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard showed that seventy of its 207 schools had reported at least three COVID-19 cases within a ten-day period. Of those, only ten were tied to ten or more cases, and none had been connected to twenty-plus. Odyssey School of Denver tops the latest roster, with nineteen cases.


The Douglas County School District COVID tracker is more sophisticated than the DPS version. Its default metric counts cases over fourteen days — the period used by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine outbreak designation. But the page also allows users to check cases by the day — and we supplemented the fourteen-day stats with ten-day numbers, to make direct comparisons with DPS possible.

The Douglas County tracker gives totals for 71 schools; eighteen charter schools aren't included. Over the ten-day period ending November 18, 49 schools had at least three COVID-19 cases and twelve hit double digits. The fourteen-day totals were rougher: 58 schools with at least three COVID-19 cases, 22 with ten or above, and five that exceeded twenty cases.

Mask rules aren't the only possible explanation for this disparity; how well individuals follow safety protocols outside of school settings must be factored in as well. But there's no doubt that the Denver school district has a less severe COVID-19 problem than does Douglas County.

Here are all of the DPS schools with three or more COVID-19 cases in the last three days, as well as the DCSD school totals for both ten days and fourteen days. They're ordered from least to most.


DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS WITH THREE OR MORE COVID-19 CASES IN THE PAST TEN DAYS

Academy of Urban Learning (AUL) — 3
Bear Valley International — 3
Cheltenham Elementary School — 3
Cory Elementary School — 3
Creativity Challenge Community (C3) — 3
Denver Language School Gilpin — 3
Denver Language School Whiteman — 3
Denver Montessori Junior HS/Denver Montessori High School — 3
Dora Moore ECE-8 School — 3
Force Elementary School — 3
Grant Beacon Middle School — 3
Grant Ranch School — 3
Inspire Elementary — 3
Isabella Bird Community School — 3
Johnson Elementary School — 3
Kaiser Elementary School — 3
Maxwell Elementary — 3
Northfield High School — 3
Schmitt Elementary School — 3
Soar at GVR — 3
Steele Elementary School — 3
STRIVE Prep - Westwood MS — 3
Willow Elementary School — 3
Bradley International School — 4
Bruce Randolph High School — 4
Denison Montessori School — 4
Denver School of Arts MS (DSA) — 4
Hallett Academy — 4
Hill Campus of Arts and Sciences — 4
McGlone Academy — 4
Montclair Elementary School — 4
Sabin World School — 4
Steck Elementary School — 4
STRIVE Prep - SMART Academy High School — 4
Swigert International School — 4
University Prep - Arapahoe St. — 4
Bryant Webster Dual Language ECE-8 — 5
Carson Elementary — 5
Centennial School — 5
Ellis Elementary School — 5
Escalante-Biggs Academy — 5
Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy Middle School — 5
Trevista at Horace Mann — 5
University Park — 5
Abraham Lincoln High School — 6
Emily Griffith Technical College — 6
Asbury Elementary School — 7
East High School — 7
Edison Elementary School — 7
George Washington High School — 7
Gust Elementary School — — 7
John F. Kennedy High School (JFK) — 7
Merrill Middle School — 7
Highline Academy Southeast — 8
Garden Place Elementary School — 9
Lake International School — 9
Monarch Montessori — 9
Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) — 9
South High School — 10
Academia Ana Marie Sandoval — 11
Skinner Middle School — 11
Slavens K-8 School — 11
McAuliffe International School — 13
North High School — 13
Traylor Academy — 13
Westerly Creek Elementary — 13
William (Bill) Roberts — 16
Odyssey School of Denver — 19

DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT SCHOOLS' COVID-19 TOTALS OVER TEN AND FOURTEEN DAYS

Arrowhead Elementary — 3 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Franktown Elementary — 3 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Heritage Elementary — 3 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Larkspur Elementary — 3 in last 14 days, 1 in last 10 days
Roxborough Primary — 3 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Saddle Ranch Elementary — 3 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Castle Rock Elementary — 4 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Castle Rock Middle School — 4 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Mammoth Heights Elementary — 4 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Mountain View Elementary — 4 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Ponderosa High School — 4 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Ranch View Middle School — 4 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Rock Ridge Elementary — 4 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Sagewood Middle School — 4 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Cougar Run Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Legacy Point Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Pine Lane Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Sand Creek Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
South Ridge Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Timber Trail Elementary — 5 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Bear Canyon Elementary — 6 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Cresthill Middle School — 6 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Fox Creek Elementary — 6 in last 14 days, 2 in last 10 days
Frontier Elementary — 6 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Gold Rush Elementary — 6 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Wildcat Mountain Elementary — 6 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Eagle Ridge Elementary — 7 in last 14 days, 7 in last 10 days
Flagstone Elementary — 7 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Rock Canyon High School — 7 in last 14 days, 4 in last 10 days
Summit View Elementary — 7 in last 14 days, 6 in last 10 days
Mountain Ridge Middle School — 8 in last 14 days, 8 in last 10 days
Pioneer Elementary — 8 in last 14 days, 7 in last 10 days
Roxborough Intermediate — 8 in last 14 days, 6 in last 10 days
Soaring Hawk Elementary — 8 in last 14 days, 6 in last 10 days
Trailblazer Elementary — 8 in last 14 days, 7 in last 10 days
Renaissance Expeditionary Magnet — 9 in last 10 days, 3 in last 10 days
Lone Tree Elementary — 10 in last 14 days, 3 in last 10 days
Mesa Middle School — 10 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Pine Grove Elementary — 10 in last 14 days, 9 in last 10 days
Buffalo Ridge Elementary — 11 in last 14 days, 7 in last 10 days
Castle View High School — 11 in last 14 days, 9 in last 10 days
Clear Sky Elementary — 11 in last 14 days, 9 in last 10 days
Iron Horse Elementary — 11 in last 14 days, 7 in last 10 days
Cherokee Trail Elementary — 12 in last 14 days, 10 in last 10 days
Prairie Crossing Elementary — 12 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Sierra Middle School — 12 in last 14 days, 11 in last 10 days
Mountain Vista High School — 13 in last 14 days, 12 in last 10 days
Chaparral High School — 14 in last 14 days, 5 in last 10 days
Sage Canyon Elementary — 15 in last 14 days, 12 in last 10 days
Cimarron Middle School — 16 in last 14 days, 10 in last 10 days
Douglas County High School — 16 in last 14 days, 11 in last 10 days
Northridge Elementary — 16 in last 14 days, 9 in last 10 days
Rocky Heights Middle School — 19 in last 14 days, 15 in last 10 days
Stone Mountain Elementary — 23 in last 14 days, 10 in last 10 days
Eldorado Elementary — 24 in last 14 days, 23 in last 10 days
Legend High School — 25 in last 14 days, 21 in last 10 days
Highlands Ranch High School — 26 in last 14 days, 12 in last 10 days
Thunderridge High School — 33 in last 14 days, 27 in last 10 days
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts