September 2021 COVID News and Updates

In September the district reported 48 positive cases across 4200 students, 800 staff members and 12 campuses. Most of the cases were low-risk exposures and did not impact other staff or students or require groups or classes to quarantine. A low-risk exposure indicates that the individuals exposed were all following mitigation measures, including social distancing and masking, and were not participating in a high risk activity, in order to avoid the quarantine. High-risk activities may include sporting or music events. To date, the district has not seen any outbreaks in the schools, school or classroom closures, or group quarantines.

 On Friday, September 10, 2021, the district received updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control. Most of the guidance remains the same.  Here is a summary of the updates:

  • Updated to recommend universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status and at all levels of community transmission.
  • Updated “Table: Criteria for Reduced Quarantine” to remove the community vaccination metric for shifting to use of reduced quarantine for typical classroom exposures.
  • Updated “Table: Criteria for Reduced Quarantine” to increase the threshold for high rates of school community COVID-19 vaccination from 70% to 80%.
  • Added new language emphasizing the importance of improving ventilation and air filtration in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • Clarified recommendations for quarantine determinations based on distance and masking in typical classroom and non-classroom settings in both the body of the guidance and in the updated Who Needs to Quarantine tool.

It is expected that vaccines for 5-11 year olds will be available in the next few weeks. Please watch for more information from the health department regarding vaccine clinics and eligibility. Currently 67% of Durango High School students are vaccinated, and 68% of students at Big Picture High School.