The challenging times of school shutdowns in COVID-19

Due to the ongoing pandemic, many schools knew that this year was going to be different. The Douglas County School District had a difficult summer planning and figuring out how they would make this year work. Making the shift to hybrid was a long and difficult process the schools endured in order to make sure everything went smoothly when August came around. 

In preparation for the return of students, schools were required to increase the amount of outside air being brought in the building. This is to improve ventilation and air quality indoors through the HVAC system. Also, filters are being replaced in the HVAC system and additional research is being done to further improve air quality. 

According to Douglas County newspress, a community newsletter, Douglas County High school in Castle Rock had 114 students and 20 staff members placed on quarantine until September 14th, 2020, when someone tested positive for COVID-19 and had been in contact with multiple classrooms. 

Castle View, Mountain Vista, Mullen, Regis Jesuit, and Douglas County High School are just some of the high schools affected by a two week shutdown this school year. The purpose of a closure versus a quarantine is the quantity of people affected, and closing the whole school for two weeks is used for decontamination and to eliminate possible outbreaks. Whereas a quarantine refers to a person, or multiple, who have come in contact with the virus and need to be isolated.

As per district policy, anyone who comes in contact with someone who tests positive is placed on a 14-day quarantine. To avoid a possible full school quarantine the district asks students and teachers to check their temperatures and stay home if they exhibit any symptoms.

Infographic by Addison Rohr, source:
Denver Post

For the schools that have had to shutdown, the unexpected shift to full online left everyone feeling frazzled and uncertain. Regis Jesuit went into a full school 1 week quarantine on October 2nd, 2020. “I feel like the majority of teachers have adapted well in making everything technology-based. But there have been other teachers that haven’t been as proficient with the technology,” said Ryan O’Donnell, junior at Regis Jesuit. “The Zooms have done well in incorporating everyone and keeping us all interacting with each other to make it feel more normal.” 

Stress has been a major impact on everyone involved with quarantines. Some stress comes from the amount of work due or management of their own time, whereas others are more stressed about what the future holds for their school year. “Going fully online for two weeks definitely has its struggles on different parts of the day. It has caused a different level of stress, making me more worried about how this will affect my grades and outlook on the rest of the semester,” Matthew Peters, junior at Mullen High School. 

Each school has different precautions taken for returning students back to school. At Highlands Ranch High School when students are called out sick the nurse will reach out to determine the reasoning for the absence. If they feel there is a threat of the virus students are required to show proof of a negative test or note from a doctor about what is going on. 

“I think with these uncertain times it’s important to stay motivated and not be discouraged from things that may be missed because it is important to take care of us during these unique times.”

Ryan O’Donnell

When someone is exposed to someone with the virus, within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, this is considered a primary exposure. If that same student were to go to their next class everyone in that class is not at risk of catching the virus unless that student tests positive. 

While this year has been challenging, everyone is doing there best to keep students safe and learning. O’Donnell said, “I think with these uncertain times it’s important to stay motivated and not be discouraged from things that may be missed because it is important to take care of us during these unique times.”

Addison Rohr, Staff reporter