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Manaugh Elementary in Cortez halts in-person learning after surge of COVID-19

Students at Manaugh Elementary School broke ground on an apple orchard in 2017.
Letter reports coronavirus ‘is racing through our school’

Manaugh Elementary shifted to online learning Thursday because of a surge in COVID-19 cases among staff and students, according to a letter from the school.

The letter was sent to Manaugh families Wednesday, and the Montezuma-Cortez School District announced the closure Thursday on its Facebook page.

An excerpt reads: “An unexpected occurrence has been the new variant of the Coronavirus that is racing through our school.”

The school plans to reopen Sept. 7, according to the letter, which added that the school will be disinfected while it is closed.

Students received Chromebooks — except for kindergartners, who were given iPads — to continue learning from home via Google Classroom, according to the letter.

Montezuma-Cortez Superintendent Risha VanderWey and Manaugh Elementary Principal Whitney Rapp did not respond to requests for more information about virus cases and the elementary school’s closure.

Marc Meyer, director of Pharmacy Services and Infection Control at Southwest Health System, provided The Journal with the health system’s most recent county virus breakdown sourced from data Monday and Tuesday. On those days combined, 320 tests were administered, and 34 new positive cases of COVID-19 were found, he said.

Sixteen cases, distributed equally, were reported among people ages 1 to 15.

Eighteen cases were reported among people ages 21 to 73. Of the 18 adult cases, 13 were among people under 35 years old, he said.

Meyer added that no COVID-19 patients currently are hospitalized in Montezuma County.

Last week, three to five people with COVID-19 were hospitalized at any one time in Southwest Memorial Hospital. Patients with more serious cases were flown to hospitals on the Front Range, he said.

More children were being tested than adults, he said.

“Kids will do fine,” he said.

It is only occasionally they will become very ill, or develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) after contracting COVID-19, he said.

Montezuma County announced Wednesday that its Public Health Department would stop reporting COVID-19 cases on its county website and Facebook page. The announcement directed residents to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.

The Journal has contacted the Montezuma County Public Health Department to discuss COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday, Assistant Superintendent Lis Richard said she thought 12 students had tested positive for the virus in the district.

At one school, seven staff had been quarantined, Richard added.

Manaugh Elementary has not been listed on the CDPHE outbreak map, which is updated every Wednesday.

Masks are optional for students in the school district. The Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 Board of Education voted 5-2 Tuesday to not mandate masks for district students. School staff are required to wear masks.

Sep 27, 2021
Montezuma-Cortez school board votes ‘no’ to mandatory masks for students

Board members Sherri Wright, Sheri Noyes, Tammy Hooten, Stacey Hall and Cody Wells voted against the motion to require masks for students.

Schuenemeyer and Chris Flaherty voted to mandate masks.

The Journal will post updates as more information becomes available.