WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – Westminster Public Schools hosted free testing for students on Thursday at its high school campus to help families prepare for the return to in-person learning next week. District leaders hope this opportunity along with two weeks of remote classes ending Friday will allow consistent teaching between Monday and Thanksgiving.

(credit: CBS)

“Some said they were a little concerned, I heard one woman say that a lot, just wanted to make sure either way before they come back to school,” said Steve Saunders, chief communications officer for the district.

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WPS says about 400 people got tested at this site in the morning. COVIDCheck Colorado provided the service on Thursday but has tested staff regularly twice a week this term.

“We had gotten to that point again where too many teachers are out, so we said let’s take break, let’s reset, two weeks,” Saunders told CBS4 on Thursday. “Let’s clear the decks, bring everybody back.”

He explained that in some cases they would have one student test positive and he or she would come into contact with six teachers who needed to quarantine. Losing so many faculty members at once forced certain classes to go remote because of low staffing in the district. WPS has offered a virtual academy from the beginning of the school year for families that prefer the option.

(credit: CBS)

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“What’s critically important certainly in our community is that our kids are in school learning,” he said.

Saunders pointed to a recent report by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment that suggests transmission of COVID-19 is relatively low in schools, a majority of cases are from students or staff getting the coronavirus while at home or outside of school.

For families with both parents working and for a majority of students who gain more from in-person learning, the district believes it should return to campus on Monday. The same approach remains for students and staff in school, follow the “Three W’s” at all times, “Wash Your Hands. Wear A Mask. Watch Your Distance.”

The district has a break for Thanksgiving and then it hopes to return to in-person learning again until its next break for Christmas.

(credit: CBS)

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“Just that overall social, emotional wellbeing of students says ‘I do much better when I’m here at school,’” Saunders said.

Shawn Chitnis