DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — As students across Colorado head back to class, at least one Denver metro school is sending students home for virtual learning. COVID-19 spread at STEM Schools Highland Ranch has officials taking action.
First and sixth graders at the school are currently under remote learning. On Wednesday, the school said second graders will also be educated remotely for at least one day. The move is in response to outbreaks of the deadly virus.
As of now, limited remote learning is a temporary situation at STEM School Highlands Ranch. Parents, however, are concerned it’s a sign of what’s to come.
“It’s not going in the right direction,” said STEM parent Marc Goldman.
Goldman has a teenager who is a senior. So far this school year, the remote learning has not impacted older students, but first graders are required to stay home through Aug. 27. Sixth graders must remain home through Aug. 30, according to notice on the school website. Second graders will be remote for at least one day— Wednesday— as the health department investigates viral spread, according to the school.
“It’s just a wait and see kind of thing,” said STEM School Highlands Ranch communications director Nicole Bostel. “Because we are not cohorting and doing … the hybrid model— as we did last year— we have more students in school, so it makes it really difficult to contact trace and socially distance at all times.”
Individual contact tracing is not happening at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The school says it’s not required to do so.
Notice is sent out to families of specific grades when a student is determined positive for the COVID-19 virus. Per health orders, students from preschool through 11 years of age must wear masks. STEM is following those orders. However, the school is only “strongly recommending” older students wear masks.
“We’ve seen it inside our building … [Mask wearing] does help … prevent even just the smallest cold from going around,” Bostel said.
Goldman would like to see the school require masks for everyone.
“I think the school could be more stringent, and maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said.
Nationwide, there has been pushback to requiring masks. Some parents argue masks are too restrictive for children.
FOX31 checked with other school districts across the metro. So far, STEM School Highlands Ranch is the first school FOX31 knows has forced students into remote learning this school year in the Denver metro area.