In Colorado, the newest strand of COVID-19, Omicron, has been running rampant. Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet with Interim Principal Thanos and discuss various adjustments since the advent of the pandemic. He expressed that, so far, Jefferson County has no intentions of closing schools and moving online. One way Chatfield was already affected by this new strand was the limited capacity restriction at the Chatfield vs. Columbine varsity basketball games.
This spike in COVID-19 started towards the end of the semester in 2021, and with all of the students traveling, Omicron’s spread became unprecedented. Doctor Edward Walsh, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, stated that from data so far, Omicron is four times as infectious as Delta, which is already twice as infectious as the original strain. If vaccinated, the symptoms of Omicron are weaker, and with a booster on top of the original two vaccinations, a person is more resistant to the Delta and Omicron strains.
Symptoms of Omicron for many are considered mild and similar to the common cold, so it can be hard to detect. If detected, a student who is unvaccinated has to quarantine for five days, and if a student is vaccinated then they do not have to quarantine at all if they are wearing a mask. Out of the 1,800 students at Chatfield, there have been 81 reported cases as of Thursday, January 13th, 2022. Since many students have been staying home since Winter Break, there may be more unreported cases. However, since there have been minimal cases at Chatfield since returning from Winter Break, the Omicron Strain is unlikely to shut down the school at this time.
Interim Principal Thanos explained that the only way Chatfield would go online for a short period of time would be if a quarter of the staff contracted COVID at the same time during the same quarantine period. The district also makes decisions based on cases per school, not as a whole district. More information can be found in this case summary of Jefferson County, including recent information on cases and other data. If a staff member is out for quarantine, then Google resources can be helpful with the aid of a substitute. Thankfully, Jeffco expressed that this pandemic is looking like it will turn into an endemic, and life may possibly be looking like it will be returning as close to the old normal as possible.