Campion Academy has had to move to remote learning for a period of at least two weeks due to a residence hall student testing positive for COVID-19 last Friday, January 15.
Following protocol, the student and his roommate were isolated and then tested last Wednesday, January 13 when he first displayed symptoms, and the results came back on Friday afternoon. At that time, the administration completed contact tracing and isolated others who were close contacts. By Saturday morning, three of those close contacts had come down with similar symptoms, so the administration acted quickly to protect the other students and staff by sending all students home beginning Saturday evening and Sunday.
The students affected have remained in the residence halls under the care of the deans and school nurse and currently have mild symptoms.
Following Larimer County guidelines, after an outbreak of COVID-19, all classrooms have to move to online learning and quarantine for a minimum period of two weeks.
“It is unfortunate that we’ve had to send our students home for the time being; however, this is a situation that we have had to anticipate and plan for this year,” explained Principal Donavan Reeder. “Most importantly, we want to keep our students and staff safe, so we had to be proactive in preventing a further outbreak.”
The administration will be further monitoring the situation and is seeking out best protocols to bring students back to campus as soon as safely possible. The Thompson Valley School District Safety Officer and District Nurse Coordinator met with Campion's administration team on Wednesday to offer advice on how to increase our safety plan, conduct efficient contact-tracing, obtain rapid testing, and ultimately avoid another closure once students return again.
“We were blessed to have had a COVID-free first semester, and we trust that God will carry us through this experience as well and bring us back together soon,” says Reeder. “Please continue to pray for the ministry of our school.”
Campion Academy was among the first high schools in the nation to reopen for in-person classes on August 9. Now, eight weeks later, they’ve completed the first quarter without a positive COVID case.
School nurse, Jenny Gann, was instrumental in developing the health and safety policies which have helped Campion manage the risk of an outbreak. For starters, mask wearing is required at all times, even outdoors. Gann commented, “As frustrating as they can be, I believe masks and limiting our students coming on and off campus have been the main policies which have kept our students healthier this quarter.”
Residence hall students have only been able to leave campus with immediate family members, and trips off campus have been vastly reduced, which has limited the potential for community exposure. While some of these restrictions can be draining on students, Gann says, “I appreciate that the staff and students have been cooperative, so that we’ve been able to stay open.”
Teachers have had to adapt as well to social distancing and to managing an in-person classroom along with students joining on Zoom. Anytime a student experiences any type of viral symptoms, he or she must stay home or in their residence hall and is able to join classes remotely through Zoom, until they’ve been cleared through testing and/or nurse approval to rejoin their classes.
Erin Johnson, Literature and Geography teacher, comments, “I think the challenge is trying to be creative with the restraints. I’m typically a teacher that puts students in groups, so I have to be creative in getting students to work together without being physically close.”
With all the added precautions and bumps in the road, has in-person education been worth the risk? “Definitely,” said Johnson. “The kids value our spiritual programming and having in-person help from a teacher. Just being able to see each other’s eyes face to face is valuable. It’s hard to have that ‘ah-ha’ moment, or connection, through a screen.”
Principal Donavan Reeder commented, "I am so proud of our staff, students and families. It has been difficult to navigate all of the restrictions. I am amazed at the creativity of our teachers in delivering education with these challenges. Students and families have been understanding and cooperative. Our Spiritual Life team has been faced with challenges for spiritual programming, but the efforts are worth it. We can see God's Spirit moving on our campus as we seek to Know Him and Show Him."
While Campion can celebrate this milestone, the administration recognizes that the fight is not over. Students were able to return home for a much anticipated break last week, but with that, the risk of COVID exposure was increased at the start of the second quarter.
Gann comments, “It is easy to let our guards down because we’ve been safe so far, but diligence in wearing our masks, washing our hands, keeping our distance, all of those difficult things, is extremely important right now.”
Principal Reeder further said, “I am grateful to God for His watching over us as he promised in Psalms 91, and we ask for everyone to keep us in your prayers for the rest of the school year.”
As students have returned from the break, Campion plans to continue the second quarter as they did the first: with diligence.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
UPDATE: With 10 days left in the semester, Campion has still had no COVID-19 cases.