Camp Verde hit hardest by COVID-19 among Verde Valley schools

VVN/Dan Engler

VVN/Dan Engler

VERDE VALLEY — Thirty-six COVID-19 positives have been reported at Camp Verde Unified since school reopened Aug. 17.

Because of several COVID-19 positives in its athletic department, the school recently canceled the remainder of its football and volleyball seasons.

But there’s been no talk of going from in-person learning to hybrid or strictly with online learning, Camp Verde Superintendent Danny Howe said Wednesday evening in an email to the Verde Independent.

“Please know that all of this is being reported to Yavapai County Health Department,” Howe said recently. “Mask wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and sanitizing continues to be encouraged by the administration.”

Mary Hudson, Howe’s administrative assistant, explained this week that “all COVID-19 cases have been quarantined away from school for 10 days or more.”

“Many of the listed students have recovered and are now back at school,” Hudson said. “We have had only one case that required a student be hospitalized. The student had a pre-existing condition. All other cases have been reported to be mild.”

Of the district’s three dozen COVID-19 positives, six were staff, Hudson also said.

‘I humbly implore you …’

Thursday evening, Cottonwood-Oak Creek Superintendent Steve King wrote a letter urging the district’s families to strictly follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

The K-8 district has had six COVID-19 positives since its schools reopened to in-person learning on Sept. 14, King said Thursday.

“All of these have been from contact with family members and not at school,” King said. “We have seen no indication of spread in our schools.”

King said the district does not intend at this time to return to virtual learning. He also said that circumstances could eventually command otherwise.

“Our schools and staff are working very hard to maintain safety for our students, and we are calling upon our families for help,” King wrote Thursday to the district’s families. “Everyone in our community must do their part if our schools are to remain open for in-person learning. I humbly implore you, if you or anyone else in your immediate family is sick, think they may be sick, or has come into contact with a known case of COVID-19, please stay home and contact your school. This is very important.”

Not without special board approval

Although Mingus Union discussed the recent spike of COVID-19 numbers at Thursday’s meeting, the district’s governing board has not called for a special meeting to return to hybrid or online learning, Superintendent Mike Westcott said.

“The board previously approved adherence to Arizona Department of Health Services guidance and the development of administrative recommendations as to our instructional status, if we were to recommend that status go from in-person to distance, we would call a special meeting to obtain board approval,” Westcott said this week.

Board member Chip Currie estimated that close to one-third of the school’s students have elected to do online learning.

“From where I sit, parents are getting out in front of the situation and, by their actions, making the decision for the board,” Currie said.

Westcott said this week that Mingus Union has had five COVID-19 positives since returning to school on Oct. 21. Of the five, Mingus Union had two students claim positive results, which Westcott said “did not involve any on-campus exposure or contact tracing.”

Clarkdale Jerome has had three COVID-19 positive cases since reopening on Sept. 14, Beaver Creek has two cases since Aug. 31, Sedona-Oak Creek one case since Aug. 24.

“We are continually reviewing the metrics and will make a determination in the future if we feel it is necessary to move into our distance learning model,” said Danny Brown, Clarkdale-Jerome superintendent.

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