JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — After a year of remote learning and quarantines, a group of parents in Jefferson County says they hoped the end of the school year would be more manageable for their children.
Beth Fries, the mother of a fourth and fifth grader, said her hope dissolved after receiving an email on Wednesday night.
"I got an email last night saying that my students were possibly exposed to a COVID-19 case on the bus and that they would have to quarantine," Fries said.
An email from JeffCo Public Schools sent to parents impacted by the situation says the exposure happened on either May 12, 13 or 14.
Fries felt the notification from the district was belated.
"They've been in school for three days already this week, and now all of a sudden it's a big deal," she said.
JeffCo Schools says with a negative COVID-19 test, students can return to class on Monday, May 24.
Fries said she and other parents feel that the solution isn't helpful at this point in the school year.
"I messaged a bunch of other parents whose kids were really upset. This is the last week of school; they're doing fun things, they're finishing fun projects. They've been through so much this year and put up with so much, and to be told, 'You can't go to school and see your friends for the last week of school,' is so heartbreaking," Fries said.
Parents said the district relayed to them efforts made to try and limit the number of students impacted by looking at bus surveillance, but district staff couldn't distinguish students from one another in the footage. Ultimately, all bus riders on the route were quarantined.
Parents shared that JeffCo Schools emphasized they followed CDPHE's guidance for student contact tracing.
Lindsay Datko, another JeffCo parent, said the situation is part of a growing list of grievances she and other parents have towards the state's quarantine guidance.
"CDPHE has failed to meet the benefit versus harm analysis for our children, and they have played a huge role in controlling the districts without taking responsibility because all they want to say is that they provide guidance, but our districts feel tied to our public health department," Datko said.
In late April, the superintendent of JeffCo Schools was one of 12 superintendents on a joint letter to CDPHE asking the agency to rescind current quarantine protocols.
Datko and other parents have formed a group called JeffCo Unites: KIDS FIRST. Members of the group plan to meet with U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter next week to share their concerns.
"We're going to discuss the harms of these quarantines and the need to make sure they end for next year." Datko said.