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Aspen pre-schoolers, teachers under quarantine

Aspen School District’s Cottage preschool is closed due to a COVID-19 positive test this week. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

A group of youngsters and their teachers at the Aspen School District’s Cottage preschool were pulled out of class Wednesday after one of them tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Eleven children and four adults are part of the two Cottage cohorts that are either in isolation or quarantine. The district has advised those under quarantine — people exposed to the infected person — to stay home for 14 days. Letters were sent to parents saying that quarantined children can return to The Cottage on Oct. 26 if they don’t become infected.

“To quell any rumors as best we can with the information we have, one classroom has been placed in quarantine returning on Oct. 26,” Superintendent David Baugh said in an email to Aspen School District employees. “An additional classroom is in isolation pending further investigation by Pitkin County Health. At this time, as of this writing, four adults and 11 children are affected in the sense of being in quarantine or isolation.”

Cottage employees learned of the positive case Tuesday night.

Citing patient privacy laws, Baugh, during an interview Wednesday, declined to say whether the infected person was one of the children or the instructors. Multiple sources, however, said the person who tested positive is a teacher.

Roughly one-half of the The Cottage’s students are children of staff and faculty at the district. Sending children home means parents have to adjust their plans, and when teachers of quarantined go home, the school must find a replacement.

“In a small system there is a big ripple effect,” Baugh said, “when so many of our teaching staff have children in The Cottage.”

Oct. 26 also is the date the middle and high schools are scheduled to start in-class learning through a hybrid-learning model. Those openings will hinge on public health trends, Baugh has emphasized.

The elementary school has been doing both cohorts and virtual learning since Sept. 8, with students attending classes in three buildings.

At the ASD’s virtual town hall meeting Monday, Baugh said the openings also are contingent on an upgrade of the HVAC systems at The Cottage as well as elementary, middle and high schools.

The district is spending approximately $300,000 for the upgrades, Baugh said Wednesday.

“It’s a very protective measure,” he said of the HVAC improvements. Work started on them Wednesday, he said.

The HVAC will be upgraded through bipolar ionization technology and improve the schools’ ventilation by reducing pathogens —like those from COVID-19 or a flu —while cleaning the air.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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