District 6 Superintendent Deirdre Pilch updates board of education on COVID-19 numbers  – Greeley Tribune | #Education

Following a wintry Monday that Greeley-Evans School District 6 Superintendent Deirdre Pilch called a “snowvid day,” Pilch said the school system is “holding strong” in its battle to keep schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic despite an increase in the number of cases of the disease in Weld County and statewide.

Speaking during a lengthy District 6 Board of Education meeting held through video conferencing Monday evening, Pilch also said the “snowvid” day is probably the last one of the year for the district.

District 6 closed schools and facilities Monday in the midst of a winter storm that dropped at least seven inches of snow on the Greeley area along with cold temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Greeley-Evans School District 6 Superintendent Deirdre Pilch. (Greeley-Evans School District 6).

“We are just days away from being ready to go fully remote with all of our students and all of our staff and won’t need to actually close schools and have an actual snow day,” Pilch told the board. “We’ll just need to have a remote day. So, I’m glad we got to have a snow day before we move to fully remote which I think is coming very soon.”

Pilch later gave the board a COVID-19 update in the district for the first time in more than a month. She met with county health department officials on Monday. The superintendent explained the district is looking at dashboard data from multiple agencies — among them the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment and the state health department.

There’s been an increase of cases throughout Weld County and statewide this month, leading board of education president Michael Mathews to open the meeting with a “plea to the community to do everything you can to help us oppress the spread of the virus” to allow district schools to remain open.

Mathews mentioned wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining 6-feet of social distance and people having an awareness of the number of people with whom they’re in contact as some of the steps the the public can take to help the district in its effort to control the spread of the virus.

GREELEY, CO – AUGUST 19:Greeley-Evans School District 6 Board of Education President Michael Mathews speaks during the official groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new Greeley West High School at Greeley West in Greeley Aug. 19, 2020. The replacement of the aging Greeley West building was funded by a bond issue passed in 2019. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

“We know for our district, to go online, to be forced to go online, it creates incredible challenges for the children in our district and that’s not something we want to have to do again,” Mathews said.

Pilch’s report, and the Weld County data she cited, supported Mathews’ request for community members of the community to crack down on the spread of the virus.

Pilch said as of Oct. 23, the 7-day positivity rate of COVID-19 cases in Weld County is 5.44%, an increase from 4.06% percent from a week before on Oct. 16. The positivity rate is lower in the Greeley and Evans zip codes at 4.93% which also marks an increase from 3.70% the previous week.

Statewide, the 7-day positivity rate was 5.84% as of Oct. 23 according to the data Pilch shared from the county. She noted the positivity rate was higher on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.

Pilch said a key number to track is a percentage statistic labeled as the trend of case numbers per 100,000 people in the past two weeks. The number should be under 25%. It’s currently at 8.00% for Weld County, which is considerably higher than the 4.92% mark of Oct. 16 and down from 10.06% on Oct. 19.

“Eight percent is a safe number to be at,” Pilch said, citing the Denver Health Institute. “We’re going to continue to monitor this data as well as statewide data as well as other data pieces particularly around the number of cases among zero to 19-year-olds.”

Pilch said Weld County health department officials told her they are not seeing outbreaks in the 0 to 19-year-old school-age group and there has not been an increase in cases in the age group now from the numbers during the summer.

Pilch said the county indicated that the state has reported more transmission currently in the 20 to 39-year-old age range.

“So, even statewide we’re not seeing any significant jump in school-age population cases,” Pilch said.

As of Monday morning in District 6, Pilch said there are currently 15 students and eight staff members positive and probable for COVID-19, meaning 0.07% percent of approximately 22,000 students  and 0.27% of the district’s approximately 3,000 staff are in quarantine.

With Monday’s numbers, District 6 has 102 total positive and probable cases of the disease since August.

Pilch previously updated the board of education with COVID-19 data in mid-September. Since then, she said the district is seeing a higher number of confirmed cases of the disease. Pilch said among the reasons for the higher number of confirmed cases is more testing in the school ranks — both among students and staff.

GREELEY, CO – AUGUST 29:Northridge High School stands at 100 71st Ave. in Greeley Aug. 29, 2020. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Pilch said the higher number of confirmed cases in the county also contribute to higher numbers in the district.

Pilch said as of Monday morning she had data indicating 16 cohorts from 11 campuses for a total of 455 individuals in the district in quarantine with positive or probable cases of Covid. Pilch later added two other cohorts were going into quarantine from University Schools and Northridge High School. Pilch did not indicate the total number of students in those cohorts.

The data she presented from Monday morning compared with 17 cohorts from 10 campuses affecting 475 individuals in quarantine when Pilch last updated the board with COVID data on Sept. 14.



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