Gary Community Investments, which includes Gary Community Investment Company and The Piton Foundation, today announced that its social benefit enterprise known as COVIDCheck Colorado, will partner with three school districts in Adams County to provide access to COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and contact tracing in an effort to support schools’ efforts to safely reopen this fall. The three districts include Mapleton Public Schools, 27J Schools, and Westminster Public Schools.
While districts are applying various approaches to re-opening, each district has committed to increase the health and safety of their school communities by providing teachers and staff access to a baseline COVID-19 test before returning to work, followed by ongoing testing once every two weeks, with additional opportunities to test anyone who presents symptoms throughout the school year.
“By committing to a comprehensive approach to COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and contact tracing, these three Adams County school districts are demonstrating a level of leadership that tells their staff, students and families how deeply they care about their health and safety,” said Gary Community Investments CEO Mike Johnston. “And, they’re showing that in Adams County there is a plan and a path forward that makes it possible for school communities to safely reopen and re-engage in the quality teaching and learning that everyone desires.”
Similar to the partnership recently announced with Aurora Public Schools, district employees can sign up for an appointment to get tested for COVID-19 at a designated site and should receive results in 72 hours or less. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a phone call from a telehealth provider who will offer support and guidance on self-isolation. As required by law, all positive cases will be reported to local public health agencies and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Those who have been exposed to the virus will be notified in accordance with the state’s contact tracing protocol and health privacy practices.
Additionally, COVIDCheck Colorado makes it possible for all individuals, students and staff to regularly track and report symptoms through a mobile-friendly website. Select district leaders will have access to a HIPAA-compliant dashboard displaying their district’s test results and symptom data to help stop potential outbreaks before they start.
“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with COVIDCheck Colorado,” said Dr. Chris Fiedler, superintendent, 27J Schools. “The ability to provide convenient COVID-19 testing to our staff members serves to further our efforts to meet and exceed safety guidelines. This county-wide partnership provides an added layer of protection to our staff and students as we continue to plan for safe and equitable school reopenings.”
In partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado, 27J Schools and Westminster Public Schoolswill open the school year based on guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that suggest students under 10 return to in-person learning while older students are encouraged to adhere to social distancing and potentially participate in cohorts that rotate between days of remote and in-person learning.
*Westminster Public Schools plans to reopen schools in mid-August with in-person five-day a week instruction while also offering students the option to enroll in the Westminster K-12 Virtual Academy which will offer a comprehensive, high-quality online education.
“As we create a responsible reopening plan for Westminster Public Schools, the safety of our staff and students is our highest priority,” said Dr. Pamela Swanson, superintendent, Westminster Public Schools. “Being able to test our employees twice a month gives us an important tool as we battle this pandemic and attempt to meet the needs of our children, their families and our community. We are so appreciative of the support provided by COVIDCheck Colorado and Gary Community Investments. This is a perfect example of the public and private sector coming together to advance the greater good,” Swanson added.
Mapleton Public Schools plans to make a full return to in-person learning five days a week in August. “Our plan to reopen our schools prioritizes the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Charlotte Ciancio, superintendent, Mapleton Public Schools. “This partnership helps us remain proactive and provides an additional layer of protection to maintain a safe environment where the rewards of attending school outweigh the risks,” Ciancio added.
“We recognize that every district has different needs based on the size and composition of their population, and we’ve created COVIDCheck Colorado as a tool that can uniquely supplement any school’s plans to safely reopen,” said Johnston. “Whether a school chooses to fully return to in-person learning or implement a combination of in-person and remote learning, regular COVID-19 testing and symptom tracking can provide school and district leaders with the information they need to maintain the highest levels of health and safety for staff, students, and families,” said Johnston.
*Updated from an earlier version.
About COVIDCheck Colorado
COVIDCheck Colorado is a social benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investment Company, which is part of the Gary Community Investments umbrella organization. It represents a philanthropic health consortium whose mission is to help Coloradans navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to their community safely. COVIDCheck Colorado complements organizations’ strategies to reopen by providing access to accurate and affordable COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and contact tracing tools to help Coloradans safely return to school, work and daily life. COVIDCheck Colorado works in accordance with guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as well as an advisory board of public health leaders and HIPAA-compliant partners.
About Gary Community Investments
Gary Community Investments, which includes the Delaware public benefit corporation known as the Gary Community Investments Company and The Piton Foundation, invests in for-profit and philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families. It was founded by Denver oilman Sam Gary with the belief that business and philanthropy can—and should—work together to create opportunities for those who need it most. Gary Community Investments is committed to investing in quality early childhood and youth development systems, expanding sustainable economic opportunities, and developing and supporting programs that create healthy family and community environments. By aligning all of our assets with our mission, we make creative investments that not only yield a financial return, but can also improve the lives of Colorado’s children.