How Cherry Creek School District's virus-spread rating system changed

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In July, Cherry Creek School District developed a four-part metric to determine whether it's safe to have in-person classes or if the district needs to entirely operate remotely. 

The district's metric included Arapahoe County's percentage of COVID-19 tests that show as positive; the county's number of hospitalizations; its 14-day rate of cases per 100,000 people, also called the “incidence” rate; and its daily case count. The last two pieces of data are both ways to track the number of added cases over time. 

“As we went through the semester, our teachers asked us to look at internal measures to schools, which I agreed with and supported,” Superintendent Scott Siegfried said in an Oct. 19 video message to the community. “So we looked at in September adding two measures of (data) internal to our schools.” 

Those two new data pieces were active cases among staff and among students. 

The district piloted, or tested, that system for four weeks before formally adopting it on Oct. 5 “so we have a measure of what's happening in our schools in addition to what's happening in our community,” Siegfried said. 

Each of the six data pieces entails a score of up to 2 points, so each day's total score based on the data can be up to 12 points.  

If the points are 7 or greater, it means the district deems it safe to continue in-person class; if it's 5 or fewer, the metric suggests moving to entirely online class. But it takes a “sustained seven- to 14-day change” to cause the district to move into or out of in-person classes, Siegfried said. 

Amid a spike in cases in Arapahoe and Adams counties, the district scored a 6 for a few days in mid-October. That score triggers discussions with Tri-County Health Department to prepare for a possible transition to online class, according to the district. 

“Last week, I sent you a letter that shared that we hit a number 6, and we did for a while hit a number 6 on our scale, and I did have conversations with Tri-County about what they see coming,” Siegfried said in the video.  

Since then, the district's score on the metric has hovered just above 6. On Oct. 20, the score was 8, and on Oct. 21, it was 7. 

Siegfried reminded the community that regardless of the day-to-day fluctuation, it takes a sustained seven- to 14-day change to cause a transition. 

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