Rural southern Colorado school district among the first to restart in-person learning

Back To School

AGUILAR, Colo. (KDVR) — One Colorado school district welcomed students back into the classroom more than a week ago.  

Aguilar Elementary in the rural town of Aguilar in southern Colorado was among the first in the state to start the school year in-person.  

Aguilar benefits from a low COVID-19 rate in Las Animas County. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, since the start of the pandemic in Colorado, Las Animas has seen 18 cases and zero deaths.  

But Dr. Stacy Houser, the district’s superintendent, said they still have to follow health guidelines. In fact, they started the school year two teachers short after they were exposed to the virus outside of school.  

“My two staff members were quarantined from the get-go and we’ve had to cover for them,” said Houser.  

He said his team is emphasizing the “big four”: face coverings, hand washing, social distancing and staying home when sick. Classes and lunch are spread out and arrows on the school’s floors direct students and teachers throughout the building.

“It looks a lot different. Kids wearing a mask in the common areas. Teachers wearing a mask when they are teaching,” said Houser.  

Mask wearing is perhaps one of the most jarring differences in school these days. But if there’s anything parents everywhere can learn from Aguilar, it is that it’s not as bad as some might think.   

“That has not been a struggle to get kids to wear a mask, and they’ve done a great job at consciously wearing them at the right times,” said Houser.  

The teachers who were quarantined are expected to return to the school in the next few days. Houser said they do have a plan in place in the event the school sees a positive case or an outbreak. He is also prepared to follow orders from the governor should he shut schools down like he did in the spring.  

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