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Student has to choose between facing COVID-19 or impacting his academic future

Alex Yang is a senior at Cherry Creek High School with a pre-existing health condition.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — What's more important: your future or your present? That is a question for Alex Yang, a senior at Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village.

"First of all, I have a pre-existing condition, so there was worry about that," Yang said.

Before the fall semester started, Yang had to make the choice between attending classes in-person and facing the potential of COVID-19 on campus or going fully remote with a limited class selection. He said the remote learning program would force him to drop two Advanced Placement courses while he's applying to colleges. 

"It feels like I'm just trying to weigh my current health and condition against my likely future and it definitely was not an easy decision then," Yang said. "Even now I'm still thinking 'did I make the right choice?'"

He decided to go in-person, but with cases popping up around the district and at Cherry Creek High School, Yang said he's worried the Cherry Creek School District isn't handling the pandemic correctly. 

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"Our problem now is that they changed the metrics," Yang said.

Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried said the system was changed in how Cherry Creek Schools determines when to place a school into fully remote learning. He said the new system takes into account school-specific information.

"So, we use the same four measurements that we have since the middle of July, we just added students and staff incident rate, positive incident rates inside of our schools," Siegfried said.

Siegfried said the new system is more accurate and that the data shows the schools are safe even after 1,100 students had to be put on quarantine.

"During that quarantine, four students have turned up COVID-positive," Siegfried said. "Four out of 1,100 students that were potentially exposed. Those are extremely small numbers."

Yang said he wants assurances that he has the right data to make the right decisions, even now.

"Maybe I wouldn't be so upset if I didn't have to make the decision between my own future and my personal health," Yang said.

Siegfried said he knows that it is always a hard choice.

"We’ve been purposeful about being 100% transparent around that health data," Siegfried said. "I think it's important that our community knows that so they can make the right decisions for themselves."

Yang is applying to colleges this fall and worries that the wrong decision may impact the attractiveness of his applications.

"I don't think I'll ever really know whether I made the right choice," Yang said.

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