Mountain Valley School confronts COVID-19


SAGUACHE — Following reports of five(5) confirmed COVID-19 cases at Mountain Valley School Thursday, Oct. 15, students shifted to online learning and the Board of Education hosted their monthly meeting online Oct. 20. COVID-19 influenced almost every agenda item.


After Saguache County Public Health officials notified Superintendent Travis Garoutte last week, they conducted preliminary contact tracing and estimated that 19 staff members and 40 students had been exposed. The exposed pupils and staff were notified and will quarantine for 10 days. Garoutte also explained that public health officials will conduct the contact tracing. Only contacts will be contacted. Children who have not been contacted do not need to quarantine.


On Oct. 18, the school announced a plan for providing breakfast and lunch. For dinner and cold-weather shelter, Megan Strauss described other ideas. AmeriCorps volunteers can help manage food distribution, and they’re reaching out to churches and others for shelter. Garoutte reiterated that the grab-and-go meals are for all students and siblings from newborns to 18-year-olds.


Board Secretary Lisa Hammel kicked off discussions when she made a motion to resume football immediately. Athletic Director Larry Hunt shared the same idea, starting with the health of students and staff first. The school closure cancelled the game scheduled for Oct. 26, and Hunt explained that if a team does not qualify for playoffs, they can reschedule games with other non-qualifying teams during weeks seven and eight. But first, Hunt wants to meet with Garoutte and bus drivers to discuss transportation safety issues for practice and games. Fourteen of the team’s 16 players travel from Moffat. Hunt will also contact state officials for exact quarantine timelines for players.


As board member David Smalley said during the meeting debrief, “Coach hunt has a lot to do. We appreciate it.”


Vice-president Lacy Reed said, “It’s important to listen to our school community. We need to respect it and be vigilant.”


“You can’t out-think it,” Garoutte said of the coronavirus. “Things change, so you have to adapt.” All students and staff are required to wear masks, which is one of a few examples Garoutte mentioned with praise for the school community.


As principal Kathy Hill noted during her report, “The transition from hybrid to remote was smooth because we were prepared.” With the temporary building closure, parent-teacher conferences moved online as well, Hill added. In addition, a free dental clinic courtesy of Chaffee County has been postponed with a date to be determined.


During his presentation, Garoutte also credited preparation during the summer for successfully transitioning to online instruction last week. All students have Chrome devices, and Garoutte said they worked with Ciello to connect 18 families to the Internet.


Yvonne Morfitt noted a total grants value of $545,369 for 2020–2021. These nine grants run from 2020 to 2025. Morfitt added that MVS was an alternate for the School Climate grant last year, but they received an offer to accept the grant now ($90,000 a year for the next three years).


At the close of the meeting, the board approved all 13 policy readings presented for review.

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