1,700 Cherry Creek High students removed from in-person class after COVID cases linked to parties

'Several' Cherry Creek High seniors test positive after off-campus parties on weekends

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Nearly half of the student population of one of Colorado's largest high schools was temporarily removed from in-person classes after several Cherry Creek High School seniors tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter from Cherry Creek School District.

"These positive cases have been tied directly to students attending off-campus parties the last two weekends," the district's Sept. 15 letter to families said. "Under Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidelines, this is considered a COVID-19 outbreak, which dramatically affects our ability to hold school."

A total of 1,731 students will be away from in-person classes until the end of the month. The students who tested positive were last at the school in Greenwood Village on Sept. 9, according to the letter.

As a result of the outbreak, 14 staff members and 146 cohort A students must quarantine through Sept. 23 and are not allowed to participate in sports or activities.

The school district's “blended” reopening plan for grades six through 12 put half of students in school Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the other half attending Thursdays and Fridays — those are the A and B cohorts.

Cherry Creek High's remaining 1,585 students in cohort A were moved to online class through Sept. 23. Those students are not quarantined and are allowed to participate in sports and activities, the letter said.

All cohort A students will return to in-person learning the week of Sept. 28. As of Sept. 15, cohort B students were not impacted, the letter said.

The new quarantine brings the school district's number of students who are or have been quarantined to 835 since school began in the district Aug. 17. In that time, 90 staff members had been told to quarantine, and confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 37 — plus the "several" new cases from Creek. The district did not specify how many cases that referred to.

As of Sept. 16, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's map of outbreaks did not yet show Cherry Creek High School, so it is unclear how many of the seniors tested positive. 

The district includes 55,000 students and 9,000 staff total, district spokeswoman Abbe Smith has pointed out.

The entire sixth grade at Falcon Creek Middle School was moved to online classes through Sept. 11 after a student exhibited “major COVID-19 symptoms” after exposure to a person who tested positive, according to another letter from the district.

Six teachers and 41 students from Falcon Creek in the east Centennial area were told to quarantine, according to Smith.

“Due to restrictions in (state public-health department) guidance, the number of teachers needing to quarantine in this situation will make it operationally impossible to maintain in-person learning for all of 6th grade,” the letter, dated Aug. 28, said.

Both cohorts A and B were moved to online, or remote, class. That included 182 students total, according to Smith.

Cherry Creek High is listed as the school with the largest enrollment — 3,728 students — among Colorado High School Activities Association member high schools during the association's 2020-22 cycle. The school falls second behind GOAL Academy, listed in El Paso County, in the Colorado Department of Education's count of membership by school for 2019-20, which lists Creek with 3,806 students.

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