November 5, 2020
By Sarah Klingenstein

Patagonia Union High School, after having moved to distance learning on Oct.14, due to two cases of COVID19, will continue in that mode for the immediate future. Though the administration had hoped to return to hybrid learning on Nov. 2, the data from Santa Cruz County is showing upwards trends in cases and percent positivity on testing. 

The Patagonia Middle and Elementary campuses remain open. COVID testing is available to students every Friday from 12:30 to 1:30p.m.

While the latest data dashboard indicates that hybrid learning may be possible, it is up to each district to make its own decisions for its community. 

According to Superintendent Mary Faley of Elgin School, it is still critical that these decisions are made taking the county data into account, but along with school trends, hyper-local trends, and in consultation with area experts.

Patagonia School Superintendent Kenny Hayes says that with the numbers going up, it just doesn’t make sense to bring the high school students back on campus, and that they will be evaluating on a weekly basis.  “Now we are entering a closely spaced holiday period, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the potential for large gatherings.” 

He believes, if students and families are really careful, hybrid learning at the high school may resume. “Your friends and family members would never give you COVID on purpose. But the virus doesn’t care about intent.  The virus will spread from one person to four to six others if unchecked. You don’t know what other people are doing when they are not around you.  We all need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are following the procedures strictly, or if we saw someone not social distancing and didn’t say anything. It’s hard to do, but we see what can result.”

Elgin School is still conducting in-person school. Faley says about ten percent of students are participating through distance learning. “We had one positive case, but we were lucky that the student was sick or contagious during our fall break, so the virus did not spread.  We’ve had no other cases.”  

School leaders continue to work closely with Jeff Terrell, County Health Director, and Mariposa Community Clinic as they navigate the changing situation.