PUEBLO, Colo. — On Thursday, Dec. 23, the Pueblo Health Department announced that they confirmed the omicron variant through wastewater testing.
They stated that they had seen over 20 cases and that this confirmed the fact that omicron spreads quickly. Officials from the health department warned schools and businesses to be prepared for higher levels of the disease.
“Employers and school should expect rapid spread of the virus and subsequent high levels of absentees due to illness among staff and students or employees in the first quarter of 2022,” said Katie David, Pueblo County Department of Health and Environment deputy director.
Thursday evening, Pueblo County Schools District 70 hosted a workshop and discussed the new health advisory. They also took the opportunity to look ahead and create better ways for staff and kids to stay safe.
“The health of the students and teachers is paramount to everybody, I think, that’s on here. It has to be. Because we can’t afford to lose anymore teachers. And the students need to continue to learn,” said Cathleen Culhane Howland, a board member of Pueblo County School District 70.
The board’s president argued against the continued use masks in schools.
“We have teams that are not even wanting to come to Pueblo to play sports or any other extra curricular activities because they don’t want to wear masks. So that’s causing our students and families to travel more, and if you think about it they’re less protected,” said Anne Ochs.
Many of the members agreed, saying that students can’t learn as easily while they are wearing masks.
“I think it really inhibits education. I think that that’s the risk-reward falls on the side of we ought to have kids able to see their teachers speak,” said Brad Miller, a member of the board’s council.
Miller said that he still wants them to be careful.
“Even if we’re not within the public health order, because we can’t just be irresponsible because negligence and those sorts of things would give rise to a liability,” Miller said.
Pueblo School District 70 stated that they are still waiting for guidance from Pueblo Health Department. However, they said that the new version of the model allows them to work together.
However, they stated that they continue to weigh all aspects of their own guidelines.
The board will meet again on Thursday, January 6, 2022.