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Students in Salida won’t have school for the next two weeks.

Starting today, Salida schools will join other Colorado school districts in closing all school facilities from March 16-20. With spring break the following week, students are now scheduled to return to the classroom on March 30.

Superintendent David Blackburn said the decision affects six different school sites in Salida: Salida High School, Salida Middle School, Longfellow Elementary School, the Early Childhood Center, Crest Academy and Horizons Exploratory Academy.

Salida Montessori Charter School and Son Shine Inn preschool followed the district’s lead and will also be closed through March 29.

“It’s a complicated, dynamic situation,” Blackburn said, adding that they looked at the science of how COVID-19 is spread before making a decision.

“Obviously closing schools and social distancing is the best way to flatten the impact,” he said. “I think our greatest hope is to look back and see that we overreacted.”

Blackburn added that even though students may not be the population at highest risk, a large number of older people are at risk here.

“We’re honoring our responsibility to protect everyone in the community,” he said.

The Colorado High School Activities Association had already canceled all spring sports, including practices, through April 6.

“We will determine next steps as the situation unfolds,” Blackburn said in a press release. “Athletics is definitely cancelled through the 6th. Any nonessential meetings outside of school are canceled.

“The buildings will be closed to all outside users through spring break as our teams work to complete deep cleaning. Our cleaning standards are above the recommendations, and we will continue to sanitize spaces when staff and students are not present. Our hearts go out to those students that will miss some opportunities these next few weeks.”

Students who rely on the school district for meals, however, will be able to get sack lunches that will also contain breakfast for the next day. Blackburn said the meals, prepped by the schools, will be available to grab and go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Salida Boys & Girls Club, 709 Palmer St., starting today. The Boys & Girls Club itself, however, is also closed since it follows the school district’s guidelines.

Lots of other businesses and entities also announced closures recently.

Ark-Valley Humane Society said Friday that it would be closed to the public starting Saturday “for an undetermined period of time.”

“Our commitment to providing essential animal services to Chaffee County residents remains as strong as ever,” said Executive Director, Amber van Leuken in a press release. “Shelter animals will receive ongoing care and enrichment and many, if not all, will be placed in foster care until we are able to reopen the shelter.”

This precautionary measure does not mean that the shelter’s animals are in danger of either contracting or transmitting this infection. Veterinary officials worldwide are in agreement that there is no evidence that dogs or cats can become ill from this strain or serve as a carrier of the infection.

Salida Recreation also announced that Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center will be closing temporarily. Additionally, all recreation and aquatic classes have been postponed, including the outdoor pickleball and tennis courts at Centennial Park. All events and large public gatherings on city property have been either canceled or postponed, and public bathrooms are also temporarily closed.

Other closures and cancellations include the Salida Circus spring break camp, Masses at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Salida Regional Library (starting Tuesday), the April 4 Rebecca Folsom show, the Western Fremont Historical Society board of directors annual meeting and all Chaffee County Fairgrounds events, including Salida Sunrise Rotary’s Chaffee Home & Garden Show, originally scheduled for April 4 and 5.

High Country Bank is temporarily closing lobbies at all its locations. Drive-through and online banking services will remain available, and bank staff can be reached by phone.

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