By Tori Mason

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Throughout the pandemic, health experts have said COVID-19 transmission in schools is fairly low. During a news conference Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said there’s been more reporting of positive cases within the younger, unvaccinated population.

Outbreaks at four Douglas County schools have sent thousands of in-person students back home.

“I heard a teacher say ‘Be prepared. Get all your stuff. We’re probably going back online tomorrow.’ I was thinking, what? Already?” said Sienna Clark, a junior at Castle View High School. “Within the first week, there was already speculation about quarantines and cases.”

(credit: CBS)

In addition to Castle View High School, recent outbreaks at Mountain Vista High School, Rocky Heights and Sierra Middle Schools have students returning to remote for two weeks.

Clark told CBS4’s Tori Mason she was one of the hundreds of Castle View students required to quarantine after they returned to in-person learning on March 22. She tested negative for COVID-19.

“It’s been like going through a tornado. You’re constantly being pulled in two different directions,” said Clark. The tornado for Clark and her classmates is still spinning. They will be learning from home, yet again.

In an email to the CVHS community, the school wrote:

“Since the return to full in-person learning following Spring Break, Castle View has had 51 reported positive cases of COVID-19 in our school community requiring the quarantine of well over 600 students at one or more times in the last 18 days.”

The shift to remote learning was mandated by Tri-County Health Department in adherence to CDPHE guidelines.

(credit: CBS)

Positivity rates in Douglas County are increasing. According to TCHD, the number of positive cases among 15 to 18-year-olds in Douglas County is growing at a faster rate than other subgroups

“We are seeing the cases occurring primarily in the population that hasn’t been vaccinated yet. Here in Colorado, and like most places around the country, that tends to be our younger population,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy with CDPHE.

At 16-years-old, Clark is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Colorado. It’s a topic often discussed with her peers and her family.

Douglas County School District says they are working closely with our local and state health partners to monitor COVID-19.

In a statement to CBS4, DCSD stated:

“At the direction of the Tri-County Health Department, DCSD moved four schools to Remote Learning this week. Our goal is to have our students and staff in school. We use a layered approach with multiple health and safety mitigation measures – so if one mitigation protocol is not possible the other layers remain in place, keeping students and staff as safe as possible. These measures include face coverings; cleaning, disinfecting, and ventilation; handwashing and sanitizing; physical distancing when possible; isolations and quarantines; and more.”

DCSD says they’re working closely with local and state health partners to monitor COVID-19 cases in Douglas County. The district will continue to ask families and staff members to follow health and safety mitigation measures, and to stay home if they are not feeling well. DCSD will work with the Tri-County Health Department to improve practices as it moves forward.

Tori Mason