Sixty students at Escalante Middle School and 22 students at Durango High School have begun quarantines after exposures to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, seven staff members at Escalante and four staff members at DHS, who were also exposed, have begun quarantines.
Based on their last point of contact with the exposed individuals, the quarantines for those exposed at Escalante will end Nov. 14. The quarantines for those exposed in the DHS incident will end Nov. 9, said Julie Popp, spokeswoman for Durango School District 9-R.
The district was notified by San Juan Basin Public Health on Oct. 30 that a student at DHS had tested positive, and on Nov. 1 that a staff member at Escalante had tested positive, Popp said.
The district and SJBPH are working cooperatively on follow-up procedures established for school exposures, including contact tracing.
Popp said the incident at Escalante involved three cohorts and the incident at DHS involved one cohort.
The cohorts will move to remote learning, she said.
No other cohorts were affected, and both schools remain open for normal operations for students in blended and in-person models, she said.
The school district emphasizes students and staff members should wear masks, continue social-distancing practices and frequently wash and sanitize their hands.
Popp added it is also important for families to monitor the health of all members, and anyone who is feeling ill should stay at home.
Claire Ninde, SJBPH director of communications, said SJBPH has been working with La Plata County and Archuleta County school districts and schools since the beginning of the pandemic.
The partnership between school districts and SJBPH includes reviewing school districts’ plans to reopen and their communication plans to contact families, school staff members and the public in the event of exposures or potential exposures.
SJBPH conducts contact tracing for every positive case identified in K-12 schools in La Plata and Archuleta counties, with schools assisting in contact tracing efforts by providing student and staff rosters.
Additionally, some schools and school districts, including Durango 9-R, help by issuing letters and surveys to identify additional symptomatic staff members and students and by referring students to available COVID-19 testing opportunities, Ninde said.
Ninde also has said because of a recent rise in cases beginning in late October, in part stemming from social gatherings, SJBPH is urging all community members to stay at home as much as possible, as well as to continue to maintain social-distance space, wear face masks and practice good hygiene and frequent hand-washings.