Superintendent disputes blame of COVID outbreak on Cheyenne Mountain High School student party

Coronavirus

COLORADO SPRINGS — Due to a large number of COVID-19 cases, Cheyenne Mountain High School (CMHS) has been learning 100% remotely since Oct. 27. In-person learning will resume on Nov. 9.

The principal of Cheyenne Mountain High School sent a letter to parents saying:

“Given the large number of students exposed during a community event and the number of staff members included in the required quarantines for this COVID-19 outbreak of confirmed  positive students, we will need to return to remote learning through November 6, 2020.” 

Carrie D. Brenner
Principal

Five students tested positive, but Dr. Walt Cooper, Superintendent of Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, said the cases were not related to each other nor to a party.

El Paso County Attorney Diana May said that she coordinated with parents before hosting a small outdoor gathering for students on her 5-acre property, and doesn’t believe her event caused the COVID cases at the school.

“The community event referenced in the letter has gotten criticism, some blaming the outbreak on a parent-organized gathering over the weekend.

Based on the information I have, any assertion that a COVID-compliant outdoor gathering was responsible for all or any of the cases at Cheyenne Mountain High School is false. Any other rumors along that same line of reasoning is likewise false.

I strongly dispel the inaccurate information that is being shared on social media platforms regarding this event and discourage the cyberbullying and harassment that I hear is taking place between parents and students based on misinformation.

As an attorney, former prosecutor, and County Attorney, I believe we all have the obligation to honor the law. That is why when a small group of parents approached me to find a way to have a modest outdoor gathering while following state and local COVID guidelines, I figured I was in a good position to help. This group of kids socialize together in some formation in sports, social events, family events, religious events, and personal events daily. This was a small supervised celebration for a small group of CMHS kids who socialize together in some formation daily.

On Friday, October 23rd, nearly a week after the event, one parent informed the other parents that their child felt symptomatic the Monday or Tuesday after the event and had just tested positive. At this time, my understanding is that there is no evidence of transmission or spread from the outdoor event on our 5-acre property.  Even CMSD 12 Superintendent Dr. Cooper yesterday confirmed they have not “identified any virus spread attributed to” to my outdoor event.

I respect the job of the media to keep the community informed by reporting credible information with reliable sources especially as it relates to COVID-19. Thank you for reaching out and allowing me the opportunity to correct the misinformation, rumors, and outright falsehoods surrounding this event.  Anything that can be done to correct the misinformation is appreciated.”

  Diana May

Though CMHS classrooms are shut down the football team still practices on school property.

Dr. Walt Cooper said, they suspended all off-season practices and the only thing in-season is football and they stopped those practices until Wednesday after they cleared everyone on the team.

Dr. Cooper has announced he plans to leave the district in June.   

The El Paso County Public Health Department released some guidelines for gathering safely:

• Follow local and state group size and mask orders and guidance and use the dial framework for all
indoor personal gatherings.
• Remind guests to stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, are positive for COVID-19 or have
had recent close contact with someone with COVID-19.
• Remind guests to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth at all times when around others
(except when eating or drinking), to wash their hands frequently and to maintain at least 6 feet of
distance. Have a supply of back-up masks at your event in case a guest needs one.
• Avoid buffet lines, self-serve table spreads or bars where guests can congregate and handle shared
food or drink; instead, hand out food to your guests individually. Use individually wrapped items
and pre-portion items before the event.
• Provide access to restrooms and handwashing areas. Provide soap and disposable towels or hand
sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• Avoid singing and shouting, as these activities may increase the risk of COVID-19 spread.
• Keep a list of guests and their contact information so they can be notified quickly in the event of a
COVID-19 exposure.
• If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by bringing in air from outdoors (opening windows and
doors when safe) or maximizing air filtration and circulation through an HVAC or portable system.

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