West Grand goes back to school

District sets guidelines for upcoming school year

Kremmling Police Department shared this infographic about bus traffic etiquette ahead of the beginning of the school year on Monday. On two-lane and four-lane roads without medians, all cars should stop for buses.
Kremmling Police Department

Teachers, administrators and staff at West Grand schools will welcome their students back on Monday for the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Students got an opportunity to meet some of their new teachers, pick up their locker assignments and bus schedules while enjoying barbecue on the high school lawn Wednesday during a back-to-school party.

One of the most asked questions coming into the new year will be masking for students and school staff. Earlier this week, the West Grand School Board approved a back-to-school plan that recommends vaccines for eligible students and masks for unvaccinated students, but the district will not require them.

Also, school staff will also not be required to be vaccinated or wear a mask. Students and staff will be encouraged to wash their hands regularly, social distance when possible and stay home when sick. The schools will offer masks, improve ventilation and remain focused on cleaning to try to stall COVID-19 transmission.

“We really tried to balance the recommendations given to us by the health professionals and melding that with what’s right for our community,” Interim Superintendent Liz Bauer said during the Tuesday board meeting.

Bauer, principal of West Grand High School, has served as the interim superintendent since the former superintendent, Darrin Peppard, stepped down from the role over the summer. It’s unclear when the district might name a permanent replacement.

While students will not be required to mask up in class, those riding on school buses will have to because the federal government is mandating them on public transportation.

The district is also hoping to work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to offer weekly COVID testing for students and staff throughout the year.

Unlike last year, West Grand will not be offering an online school option. Bauer said the district feels it’s important to return to in person learning for the best student experience.

Quarantine rules will be different this year with specific guidelines depending on whether a student was vaccinated or masked, as well as the duration of exposure and symptoms. Grand County Public Health will be responsible for making decisions about quarantining and isolation.

“We don’t expect quarantines to be as widespread or really as devastating as they were last year,” Bauer said.

However, Public Health Director Abbie Baker said the best way to avoid quarantines is to either get students and staff vaccinated and for any unvaccinated students and staff to wear masks. Baker added that public health won’t quarantine people who had close contact with a person with symptoms until a test confirms a positive COVID case.

“We’d really like to avoid unnecessary quarantines as much as possible,” Baker said. “There’s no guidance to public health to do the presumed-positive quarantines.”

Meanwhile, the cross country, volleyball, spirit and football teams are preparing for their upcoming seasons, much different than last year when the line up cast into doubt.

“We are so excited to start the year with a calendar, set dates, and the expectation of offering full opportunities for all of our student participants,” CHSAA Assistant Commissioner Bethany Brookens said in a statement. “Our teams, coaches, and players have endured and overcome tremendous odds, and this year will truly be a celebration!”

At the same time, the Kremmling Police Department has been increasingly vocal about reminding drivers on the proper procedures when approaching a school bus with its stop sign and lights flashing.

As a tip, all oncoming traffic must stop for a school bus with its lights flashing unless traveling on a divided highway or road with a barrier between opposing directions of traffic. If it’s just a turning lane, oncoming traffic still must stop for the bus.

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