Dear Parents and Guardians,
It has become a regular occurrence that Colorado is having ever changing information about COVID-19; guidelines and potential issues make it a very fluid situation. We have been keeping current on each new announcement and are giving out information today to let you know our current plans.
We plan to move slowly before stating definite plans as we hope things will change in the next couple of weeks; as many of you have heard, the governor announced Thursday by Executive Order, that everyone 11 years and older are required to wear a face covering at school.
Our priority is to take a common sense approach to meet the needs of our school community and at the same time doing what is legal and ethical.
Addressing “One Size Fits All” Solutions
Today, I have sent communication to Governor Polis, Katy Anthes, the Commissioner of Education in Colorado as being a part of her rural advisory council, each of our County Commissioners, our County Health Director, our County Sheriff, and the Executive Director of the Colorado Rural Alliance stating our concerns of “one size fits all” Executive Orders for our school district and rural Colorado…namely the Executive Order on wearing masks.
Our plan as of two days ago was to provide masks for students and staff, encourage but not require the wearing of them at this time, and have them be optional unless social distancing was not possible such as riding the bus in some cases, or working one on one, or working with a high need situation.
We have received a few calls today and are in agreement that the wearing of a mask cause health concerns for some individuals.
Our goal is for our school district to offer in-person instruction for Preschool through 12th grade, for the vast majority of students.
Our goal is that in-person instruction and school will look as “normal” as possible, following existing school calendars.
Students will be able to receive instruction in the same subjects as usual.
With COVID-19, hopefully, common sense health protocols will be in place, in the least disruptive manner possible to minimize risk, understanding that we cannot eliminate risk.
It is our goal that when in-person learning is not possible, because of state mandates, instruction will temporarily transition to remote learning. The temporary transition to and from remote learning will impact the fewest number of people necessary, for the shortest possible time, based on the specific situation and health guidance in place at that time.
Remote learning will be a variation of what the district provided in the spring, taught by the same teachers as in-person, but more robust and academically rigorous.
Addressing Concerns on In-Person Learning
For students and families that have concerns over in-person learning, we want to work alongside you as well by offering an online option.
The school district will offer a 100% on-line K-12 learning option for those preferring that method over in-person instruction.
Online Learning Options
Online learning is different from remote learning, where online learning is an alternative to in-person instruction.
Students who choose online learning will need to stay in online learning through the end of the semester.
Students will be allowed to move from online learning to in-person instruction at the beginning of the next semester in January if you choose to do so.
More information about the 100% online option will be available in early August.
Moving Forward with 2020-21 Plans
It is important for our school to take precautions to minimize COVID-19 related health risks for students and staff while at school/work.
We will use health experts’ guidance as we finalize plans to bring students back this fall. Some organizations’ guidance is a lot different than other organizations’ guidance (for example Centers for Disease Control, CDC vs. American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) establishes the basic rules for Colorado, consistent with the Governor’s Executive Orders.
Some organizations have more common sense approaches to establish health protocols than others.
Another thing we have to consider is that Big Sandy School District as well as nearly every other school district in the state is heavily funded by the State of Colorado; our state funding makes up 74% of our budget, whereas property taxes make up 11%.
Elbert County School Districts Working Together on Priorities
- The superintendents from all five Elbert County school districts worked together to agree on common priorities and considerations our schools will use to develop and implement protocols for school operations during the year. These currently include health precautions such as:
- Students and staff will be encouraged to wear face coverings unless appropriate physical distancing can be maintained, or mitigating circumstances preclude use (we’ll have to wait and see what shakes out).
- Parents will be asked to screen students for fever/COVID-19 symptoms at home before students come to school.
- Students and adults will be required to stay home if they are experiencing a combination of COVID-19 symptoms.
- Increase circulation of outdoor air throughout indoor facilities.
- Minimize assemblies, gatherings, events, and activities to those that can maintain adequate social distancing.
Additional information will be sent to you over the next few weeks.
Your support and patience is Appreciated
We appreciate your support and patience with this unusual situation.
We are committed to providing every student with access to the highest quality education, as well as supporting parents to return to the work place and other obligations.
We sincerely look forward to welcoming students back into the classroom as safely as possible.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.