Proposed plan for return to school in January

Monday, December 14, 2020 - 1:45pm
onward together

Participate in upcoming virtual town halls to learn more

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As we near the end of the first semester, we would like to extend our gratitude to the entire Five Star community. Amidst so many changing circumstances, we’ve seen our students, staff and families show grit, resilience, patience and understanding. For that we want to say thank you. We appreciate your support in this ever-changing landscape more than we could ever express.

The following update is designed to:

  • Recap where we’ve been and what we’ve learned this fall

  • Outline what we, as a school district and as a community, need to do moving forward to support a successful learning experience for all

  • Provide an update on proposed in-person/hybrid school plans for January (full-time remote learning option remains available for those who selected it)

We want to acknowledge you may have heard mixed messages in recent weeks regarding when students should be in school buildings. State and national health experts as well as government leaders have expressed their belief that students should be in school even as COVID cases and positivity rates have continued to rise in our community. We share their belief that the best place for students to be is in school and agree that schools are safe for students and staff based on low transmission rates within our buildings. 

The challenges we faced this past fall in maintaining consistent in-person learning opportunities were not a result of high transmission rates within our buildings but quarantine guidelines that made it challenging to maintain the necessary amount of staff to run a school building and provide a safe learning environment. 


What we’ve learned

  • Transmission in schools is low to rare. This is due to the number of mitigation measures in place at all schools – mask wearing, symptom screening, cohorting, targeted contact tracing, physical distancing, sanitizing, increased ventilation, etc.

  • Community spread causes staff shortages and disrupts in-person learning. Although most cases among students and staff appear to be acquired at home or in the community rather than in schools, these situations lead to quarantines of students and staff. When our counties reached very high levels of community transmission (> 500 cases per 100,000 with upward trends) we were unable to operate in-person learning due to shortages of staff caused by quarantines. 

Community efforts to reduce COVID incidence rates are critical if school districts are to be able to provide consistent staffing to support in-person schooling.


What we need to do moving forward 

Additional strategies at the district level 

  • Simultaneous learning at the secondary level - The hybrid model at the secondary level will now have four days of synchronous instruction (live/teacher-led). When hybrid learning resumes, student cohort groups will have two in-person classroom days and two days where they join instruction remotely through a classroom live stream.  Wednesdays will be asynchronous learning days with time set aside for additional synchronous support for identified students and teacher office hours.

  • Revised quarantine guidelines from public health officials.

  • Targeted school-based shifts to remote learning - This will include more clear metrics for when a school would transition to remote learning. Metrics will include a percentage of staff or students out for illness or quarantine. 

  • Ongoing staffing strategies to encourage qualified adults in our communities to apply for and substitute in schools and a new “classroom monitor” position for when staff might be quarantined, but students are in-person.

  • On-site testing strategy for staff and students (in development stage) 

  • Consider requiring staff to wear specific types of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is provided to them (exploring options)

We all have a role - Do your part, stop the spread

What we do outside of school can have an impact on what level of in-person learning can occur within our schools, so we ask you to please continue to do your part. Wear a face covering at public and private gatherings, keep your distance, wash/sanitize your hands frequently, monitor your health, and stay home when you are symptomatic.

In addition to strategies at the district and community level, we need additional resources and support from the state. 

Support from the state level

Adams 12 Five Star Schools has joined other metro area school districts in working with the Governor and his newly formed Back-To-School Task Force to address obstacles to in-person learning. We are asking them to:

  • Prioritize educators to receive a vaccine after healthcare workers, first responders and those who are immunocompromised/high risk. This would greatly increase our ability to have enough staff members available to work in schools every day regardless of sustained COVID-19 spread in the community.

  • Provide free or low-cost test kits, personnel and required training so that schools can offer free, ongoing COVID-19 testing to students and staff. This will allow for better identification of asymptomatic COVID-positive staff and students, as well as allowing healthy quarantined staff and students to return to school faster. We are currently working with our partners at COVID Check Colorado to find solutions.

  • Continue to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to school staff until a vaccine is widely administered and PPE is no longer required.

  • Encourage qualified adults in our communities to apply for substitute teaching positions in our schools.

  • Provide funding for additional summer learning opportunities for students.


Update on proposed school plans for January

Our goal from the start of this school year has been to prioritize consistency in our learning model. We recognize that health conditions have not always made this possible and that in-person students experienced multiple transitions between in-person and remote learning. We understand the frustration with these transitions and we appreciate your patience and perseverance.

As we look ahead to a new semester, our goal is to not only resume in-person learning opportunities but, ideally, do so in a way that allows for the continuation of in-person learning for the remainder of the school year with minimal disruptions.

We believe the following plan gives us the best opportunity to return to in-person/hybrid learning, while attempting to limit further disruptions to student learning. Keep in mind, a full-time remote learning option remains available for those who selected it.

Monday, Jan 4 -
Wednesday, Jan. 6

 

(No school for all students - this is a change to the district calendar)

Teacher Professional Learning

Teacher training for simultaneous instruction at grades 6-12 and effective remote instruction across all grades (in anticipation of ongoing classroom/cohort/staff quarantines).

 

*Jan. 5 and 6 will be made up as instructional days for students during other currently scheduled non-student contact days in second semester - final make-up days will be communicated before winter break. 

Thursday, Jan. 7 Remote learning begins for all students (P-12)
Monday, Jan. 11

Limited in-person learning begins for special education students

  • Supports unique needs of special education students

  • Supports district opportunity to implement new quarantine guidance

In-person ACCESS testing begins for English Language Learners (ELL)

Entire month of January

Monitor case rates and case rate patterns

  • Watch for case rates to arrive at and stay around 500 cases per 100,000 residents

Monday, Jan. 25

Return to in-person/hybrid learning for grades P-12 (a full-time remote learning option remains available for those who selected it)

  • The best chance for sustained in-person/hybrid learning is if case rates are stable and around 500 per 100,000 residents. The district will monitor case rates as we approach Jan. 25 and look for case rates trending downward in the direction of 500 per 100,000 and then work with community, staff and board members to make decisions in the interest of in-person learning.

The Board of Education is expected to review this recommendation during its regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m., this Wednesday, Dec. 16. 

Learn more at family virtual town halls - Monday, Dec. 14 and Tuesday, Dec. 15

Families interested in learning more before Wednesday’s meeting, had the opportunity to join one of two virtual town halls on Monday and Tuesday night. These town halls featured group learning time on fall quarantine procedures based on CDPHE guidelines, revised quarantine guidelines and how they will impact in-person school operations moving forward, and anticipated ongoing challenges for in-person learning for second semester. In addition, they heard about the Superintendent’s proposed plan and were able to provide feedback via a live panel Q&A and survey. This feedback will be used in conversation with the Board of Education in making a final decision for next semester. 


How to view the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 16
The district will live stream the meeting on the district YouTube channel. The broadcast will also be accessible via the video camera link that will be posted in the agenda in BoardDocs prior to the start of the meeting. Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish will be provided during this meeting. Please check the BoardDocs website for information on accessing interpretation services.

How to provide public comment during the board meeting
There are two options for providing public comment during the board meeting: 1. Signing up to speak live during the Zoom meeting; 2. Submit feedback in writing for the board to review.

Both public comment options are available by submitting this Google Form. Requests to address the board in public comment must be submitted by 12 p.m, Wednesday, Dec. 16.