Eight San Juan County schools shut down in-person learning due to COVID-19 cases
More than 400 students in Bloomfield schools quarantined
- Six San Juan County public schools have closed due to positive COVID-19 cases with two more set to close on April 15.
- The Aztec, Bloomfield and Central Consolidated school districts were affected.
- This is the first time Aztec schools has closed a school to in-person learning due to positive COVID-19 cases.
FARMINGTON — Six San Juan County public schools have been voluntarily shut down by three area school districts, with two high schools set to close after reporting one or more COVID-19 cases and possible exposure to hundreds of students.
The Bloomfield School District closed Central Primary Elementary and Mesa Alta Junior High schools on April 13 and will close Bloomfield High along with Charlie Y. Brown High schools on April 15 due to positive COVID-19 cases, according to Bloomfield Superintendent Kim Mizell.
The Central Consolidated School District shut down in-person learning at Nizhoni Elementary School in Shiprock on April 9, Kirtland Elementary School on April 10 and Kirtland Middle School on April 14, according to CCSD Spokesman Roberto Taboada and social media posts.
The Aztec Municipal School District announced on the morning of April 14 it would shut down Park Avenue Elementary School for the rest of the school week after a school employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Mesa Alta and Central Primary reported two positive cases of COVID-19 as Bloomfield high reported three positive cases amongst staff and students.
No students/staff have tested positive at Charlie Y. Brown but Mizell said students at CYB also attend classes at Bloomfield High and the move was to keep consistency between both high schools.
Mesa Alta and Central Primary are set to return to in-person learning on April 26. Both high schools are scheduled to return to in-person learning on April 30.
A total of 420 students in Bloomfield schools were asked to quarantine, with 230 at Central Primary, 160 students at Mesa Alta, 85 at Naaba Ani Elementary School and at least 10 students at Bloomfield High, according to Mizell.
Contact tracing at Mesa Alta showed too many teachers who had not been vaccinated were possibly exposed and had to quarantine.
“We had several employees that opted not to get vaccinated that were exposed,” Mizell said. “They had to be quarantined, so then you don’t have enough people for in-person learning.”
Mizell added teachers who had been vaccinated and were possibly exposed to COVID-19 do not have to quarantine.
Students in Bloomfield who tested positive for COVID-19 have been experiencing symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea, Mizell said.
The Bloomfield superintendent believes schools in the area and statewide are seeing a new wave of infections due in part to Spring Break and the Easter holiday.
Before April, Bloomfield schools shut down schools three times due to COVID-19 cases.
Blanco Elementary School was closed in November, the Bloomfield Early Childhood Center in February and Central Primary was first closed down in January.
Nizhoni and Kirtland elementary schools reported two positive COVID-19 cases between staff and students and will be closed for 10 school days then will reopen, Taboada said.
A letter dated April 13 was posted to the Kirtland Middle School Facebook page announcing the closure. On April 12, a letter stating a positive case of COVID-19 was detected at the school was also posted on its Facebook page.
Kirtland middle students are set to return to the classroom on April 27. All sports are canceled until the 27th also.
District officials wanted to remind the community to continue COVID-19 safety practices like wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing in public.
“We want to make sure everyone’s safe but remind everyone if a student is sick, they shouldn’t come to school,” Taboada said.
The Daily Times requested the number of students quarantined due to the positive COVID-19 cases, but no response was received by deadline.
Members of the Shiprock High School boy's basketball team recorded a video that was posted to the district’s Facebook, urging everyone to be safe so the team can have fans attend games again.
Fans at not permitted at indoor sports activities under the current "yellow" status in the New Mexico Department of Health’s latest “red to turquoise” framework.
San Juan County reverted back to the yellow level from turquoise on April 7.
Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter told The Daily Times the district received the information regarding a positive COVID-19 test at Park Avenue just before 8 a.m., after students were arriving for the school day.
This is the first time Aztec schools has closed a school to in-person learning due to positive COVID-19 cases.
Carpenter stated it was a very fast and rapid decision to close the school for three days as students had already arrived at the school via bus or parental drop-off.
The district spent the morning contacting parents to come and pick up their students.
The school will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected before students return on April 19.
Carpenter did not have a figure for the number of students who have to quarantine but stated the figure is an “extensive number” of the student population.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.
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