COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- More than a dozen students, parents and community members protested outside the District 11 administration building Friday, against officials' decision to move some schools to remote learning, following an influx of COVID-19 cases.
The district announced at least seven schools have been placed on remote learning, including Palmer High School, Doherty High School, Coronado High School, Swigert Middle School, West Middle School, McAuliffe Elementary School, and Columbia Elementary School.
"We have seen a pretty sharp increase in our COVID cases in a lot of our schools," Chief Communications Officer Devra Ashby said, "What’s happening right now, is a lot of our younger students in our elementary, middle and high schools are turning up with positive cases."
According to the district's COVID-19 data, District 11 schools experienced more than 200 cases in the last month. Officials also cited El Paso County currently experiencing a higher COVID-19 positivity rate among young people than the state's average.
"This isn’t about masks. This isn’t about taking COVID seriously. This is really just about giving our kids options and not just shutting everything down without considering other alternatives," protest organizer and parent, Shannon Rogers said.
Rogers cited the cancellation or postponement of several student activities as another reason for some students' and parents' frustration.
"It was a very sudden thing because we were all planning our orchestra concerts, our choir concerts, all of our arts performances," Coronado High School senior, Raina Bennett said, "It was just very sad. Especially, being a senior because it will be our last concert ever."
"I mean, the prom tickets are non-refundable and I already bought my ticket and to know that it has been rescheduled but is subject to cancel...knowing that yet again we were promised something that might be taken away it’s hard," Coronado High School senior, Elizabeth Gumper said.
District officials said Friday their goal is to get kids back in-person as quickly and safely as possible.
"We don’t want to cancel them. We’re trying to move them forward and reschedule them with a graduation mindset in place as a priority," Executive Director of School Leadership, Dan Hoff said.
As of right now, Ashby said they still plan to hold graduation outdoors at the district’s stadium, with in-person student attendance and up to six guests per graduating senior.