RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Commissioners met with Upper Rio Grande School District representatives in a work session on Feb. 9 to continue to discuss the school district’s quarantine requirements and decided to draft a proclamation or blanket statement to address the district’s concerns.
URGSD Superintendent Aaron Horrocks and Board of Education President Keith Brown were present to speak to commissioners and Rio Grande Public Health Department Director Dr. Kolawole Bankole about the district’s desire to change the quarantine requirements at the school and to allow parents of students to decide if a student needs to be in quarantine.
“I would like to say publicly that the school district has been doing a great job. There have been a lot of pandemic changes in requirements and recommendations from the CDC and CDPHE, I really acknowledge that they have been moving around mountains and been on the ground for so many changes,” Bankole said.
Dr. Bankole said that it seemed that every time he met with the school, it was the next week or the next day that the requirements and recommendations from CDC and CDPHE would change, and the school would adjust and adapt to the changes. The last time the school met with Dr. Bankole was in January when the quarantine guidelines changed to a lesser amount of time.
Dr. Bankole recommended that the school district continues with its current quarantine requirements. The Rio Grande County Commissioners expressed their desire to allow the school to decide on its own.
Rio Grande County Commissioner Chairman Gene Glover said that he felt it was past time the requirements be left up to the district and that if the district wanted to leave the decision up to the parents, the county should back that decision.
Dr. Bankole also said that he desired to work together to produce a solution that would be best for the community as the school consisted of families and the decisions would impact the community, and the health and safety of the community were his focus.
“Let us work together and find what we can do and what we can change,” Bankole said.
Superintendent Horrocks said that the school district had no intention of stopping what they were doing as far as to contact tracing and monitoring students with symptoms. They were merely asking for the county for support in allowing parents to determine whether a student with no symptoms be in quarantine or not.
“We don’t want to stop doing testing, monitoring, contact tracing, safe practices in the school. All we are asking for is the ability to say, all right, when we have a student who is exposed but is not ill to keep that student in school,” Horrocks said.
Horrocks said that he had signed the school up for the Colorado state's program, Test to Stay, and that it would take time to implement.
“By the time we get that set up, according to Dr. Bankole, we might have another change. It is very frustrating. I would like support to move to a voluntary quarantine where we still contact, we let people know there was an exposure and we let the family decide if the student needs to quarantine or not,” Horrocks said.
Rio Grande County Commissioners ended the conversation with the decision to write either a proclamation supporting the school district or a blanket statement supporting the district and to allow it to make quarantine decisions based on family and parental decisions. The board opted to have the document drafted for approval by the next Rio Grande Commissioner meeting.