Schools release plans for reopening
East and West Grand school districts have released their first versions of reopening plans for the coming school year.
After closing in mid-March due to COVID-19, returning to school after almost five months as the pandemic continues will be a new experience for students and faculty alike.
Both school districts intend to have face-to-face learning, though remote learning will be an option for students. Classes are expected to be all day every day of the regular school week.
“We really want to work hard to have the full face to face (instruction) every single day that we’re used to,” West Grand Superintendent Darrin Peppard said in a video update. “It’s going to look a little different.”
West Grand will be starting classes Aug. 24, while East Grand is planning a district-wide soft start for students Aug. 26-27. East Grand’s original opening date was Aug. 24, but the schools pushed that back to give teachers two extra days to prepare for the changes. West Grand had previously moved back its start date by a week.
Families uncomfortable with returning their children to in-person classes will have the option to go fully online.
The districts will be offering a virtual school platform through Colorado Digital Learning Solutions. This, unlike what was offered in the spring, is a true online program run through the districts.
West Grand has purchased additional Chromebooks for grades three through 12, so these students will have digital access without device sharing.
As for in-person learning, the districts have outlined their overall procedure but much remains to be determined. Family and staff comments will be critical in detailing the specifics, the districts said.
“The plan doesn’t get into the weeds yet,” East Grand Superintendent Frank Reeves said in a video accompanying the announcement. “You won’t see the details of what those protocols are because we need your feedback.”
The districts said that the procedures have been developed in partnership with Middle Park Health, Grand County Public Health, the Incident Management Team and the Colorado Department of Education. Many of the principles guiding in-person learning reflect practices familiar in the COVID-19 era.
Face masks will be worn by students when social distancing cannot be achieved to the greatest extent possible, and the districts will be providing masks to staff and students.
Outdoor time will be encouraged, weather permitting. The schools will work to keep students in grade level cohorts whenever possible, meaning sixth grade students are only in classes with other sixth-graders, eating lunch with sixth-graders, having recess and so on.
West Grand said that if there were a positive test with a student or staff member, their cohort would need to be quarantined for approximately two weeks with learning transitioning online. East Grand is also working on protocols to integrate in-person learning with online learning if school closures occur.
Students and staff will be checked daily for symptoms, including temperature checks, and hand washing will be frequent.
Both superintendents emphasized that the plans are built around the desire for a safe and healthy learning environment. They stressed the social emotional importance of in person classes.
Specifics about food service, extracurricular activities, sick leave policies for staff and sanitation protocols in specific situations still need to be determined, among other details like fall sports.
The districts will be holding community meetings to take feedback and answer questions about these plans. West Grand’s is at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. today at the K8 cafeteria. East Grand’s will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday over Zoom.
These plans remain flexible and are subject to change as pandemic protocols develop.
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Grand County has not seen any new deaths due to COVID-19 in the last week, and the reported number of deaths with COVID has gone down by one.