COVID’s Delta variant is running rampant in San Miguel County, according to public health officials. Last week, cases were escalating. As of press time on Tuesday, there were 36 active cases in the county, with 18 new ones just before Friday’s update. Norwood Public Schools is still reporting zero cases. 

Now, the county’s public health department is working with the state to determine what, if any, mandates are in order. Currently, Norwood Public Schools does not have a mask mandate, and the superintendent and the school board want to keep it that way. 

School board president Mike Morlang told The Norwood Post last Thursday that families need to be proactive. He said that since masks are not enforced right now, other good health and hygiene practices have become extremely important. 

School staff is enforcing hand-washing procedures after recesses and before meal times. He added the custodial staff is disinfecting school spaces and keeping them clean for staff and students. 

Morlang said it’s very important for families to keep their kids home if they’re sick. He said nobody, including staff, should appear on campus if they are not feeling well. That includes losing smell or taste, coughing, fever, and more. 

He said they should stay home and take a COVID test to protect live, in-person learning. 

“We are doing our best to keep the school open,” he said. 

Though temperature checks were in place last year, Morlang said that practice has since been removed. He said it’s not effective because it takes excessive time for staff to go through the procedure each day. Still, it’s something that families can keep track of at home. 

School superintendent Todd Bittner sent a parent letter via email to families encouraging them to follow the health protocols. The letter included a flowchart to make it easier for families to assess their own illness symptoms and how to proceed with not feeling good. 

Morlang said the administration and board want to see not only school continue on campus, but sports for the kids, too. 

“We want them to be in school and sports,” he told The Norwood Post. “Having those extracurricular actives and having everyone involved … it’s going to be challenging, but I’m cautiously optimistic. We are pretty good so far on virus cases. … I’m very happy with the way it’s going right now, looking at everything going on around us.”

Representatives from San Miguel County Public Health said they aren’t sure the correctness of the recent caseload data, since some people in both ends of the county are choosing not to test. 

At the same time, public health said keeping schools open is a priority. 

“We will work to keep them open as long as it’s safe to do so,” Lindsey Mills, representative of public health said on Monday. “We will continue to follow CDPHE guidance as it pertains to schools and COVID.”

For Norwood, COVID tests are available Monday through Friday at Uncompahgre Medical Center by appointment. All COVID testing opportunities available are listed on the county website at bit.ly/smccovidtest.