Scottsbluff Public Schools announced on Friday that it will continue in-person instruction if the risk of spread continues to increase in Scotts Bluff County.
“This decision has been made with the support of Panhandle Public Health District and in collaboration with neighboring school districts,” a letter addressed to parents and penned by Scottsbluff Schools Superintendent Rick Myles said.
When announcing their initial reopening plans in August, SBPS said it would consider alternative schedules such as a split schedule or a hybrid model of classes if the dial moved to orange, a designation decided in collaboration with the Panhandle Public Health Department.
In the letter, Myles also said the district felt confident it could continue to prevent spread in its buildings while continuing in-person classes.
The risk dial has been steadily trending up in recent weeks and now sits just shy of the orange or high-risk level. The colors indicate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 as decided based on factors evaluated by PPHD.
There have been 179 quarantines among staff or students over the first quarter of the year, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. The dashboard also said that 14 people have contracted the virus over that same time. As of Friday, the dashboard reported 35 individuals under quarantine and five active cases.
The precise distribution of cases among staff and students is unclear due to restrictions on private health information relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA.
There are 65 cases considered active in the county, according to the PPHD dashboard Friday.
Several other changes would kick in if the county moved to orange on the school district level, including a move to individually packaged lunches, a prohibition of visitors in school buildings, and limiting of school activities like field trips, according to the August reopening plan.
SBPS already has a mask mandate in its buildings, which would continue if the dial moved to orange.
PPHD announces changes to the risk dial on Mondays.
Going forward, Myles said there weren’t specific factors or thresholds that trigger a move to online or hybrid instruction. Instead, Myles said it would depend on what was going on in the community.
“We would really have to be in a situation where this community was severely impacted,” Myles said.