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Kemper Elementary School moves to remote learning

Remote learning is mandatory for all Kemper Elementary School students through Oct. 22.
Closure comes a day after school board refused to give superintendent authority to move schools to remote learning

Kemper Elementary School will move to online learning through Oct. 22, according to a letter from the school Wednesday afternoon.

The Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1, along with the Montezuma County Health Department, identified a COVID-19 outbreak at the school, the letter said.

Remote learning will begin Thursday.

The decision came after the school board voted at emergency board meetings Friday and Tuesday not to grant Superintendent Risha VanderWey the authority to shift schools to remote learning because of workforce shortages or COVID-19.

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VanderWey can close schools in the case of an emergency without board permission — although she views it as a last resort, she said at the Tuesday meeting.

The outbreak has not been recorded on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s outbreak map.

CDPHE updated its definition of an “outbreak” for most settings June 1. In locations such as schools, workplaces, events and dorms, an outbreak occurs when there are five or more confirmed or probable cases, with at least one case having a positive molecular amplification test or antigen test.

The Journal will update as virus case information within the school becomes available.

As of Friday, the district had 22 positive cases in students and five positive staff cases. Teachers are out for a multitude of reasons — from cancer to seeing family to having their own kids quarantined, VanderWey said at Friday’s board meeting.

On Tuesday, 62 teachers were absent from the classroom, and more than 20 were without substitutes.

On Friday, 45 teachers were out, with 16 not having class coverage.

As of Friday morning, 156 students were quarantined.

Five additional students were quarantined this week after a family member tested positive, Assistant Superintendent Lis Richard said at an emergency board meeting Tuesday. On Tuesday, no new staff cases had been reported since Friday.

This article will be updated when more information is available.