By Jeff Todd

FORT MORGAN, Colo. (CBS4) – After at least 75 school district employees were forced into quarantine, the Morgan County School District Re-3 is the latest to move classes online. The rapid spread throughout the community is hitting the small school district just as hard as larger ones along the Front Range.

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“The amounts of quarantining before had not been prohibited for staffing. It became prohibitive. Out here in Northeastern Colorado, we don’t have substitute teachers just lining up to work,” said Aaron DeLay, a Language Arts teacher at Lincoln High School in Fort Morgan.

DeLay took his classes virtual on Monday. Since school started in August through the end of October, DeLay had been teaching with his small class socially distanced and in masks. He says the first day went well, but is concerned about the long-term impacts.

(credit: CBS)

“In a personal and slightly professional opinion, online teaching negates the contact. We’re doing well for our first day, but it’s not ideal. It’s not easy to be a teacher online. There’s separation, there’s a chasm that exists, and we’re doing the best we can,” he said.

“Simply put, we’ve now reached the point at which the benefits of in-person learning for grades 1 through 5 are outweighed by the disruption caused by abrupt transitions to quarantines and by the risk of COVID exposures within our schools,” Dr. Rena Frasco, the district’s Interim Superintendent said on a recorded video on Tuesday. “If we all step up now we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our students can return to in-person learning.”

The Northeast Colorado Health Department believes there are more than 250 active cases in Morgan County, nearing an all-time high compared to the spring. Cases have tripled in the past two weeks.

(credit: CBS)

“Given that our numbers and infection rates are rising in the community in a small town and county of 28,000. When you have 257 active COVID cases, that’s not a good. With schools closing, and the meter from the health department going up to level three and the possibility of a stay at home order people are starting to realize, oh this is real,” DeLay said. “Their future and their education and their success is the most important thing to us, we have to make sure we’re doing the best for them.

Jeff Todd

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