Reintroduction Update

Back Together BVSD
Carolyn Nohe

Dear Boulder Valley Families and Staff,

I hope that you are having a good first week of Summer Break.

Our task force is continuing their work, planning for students to return to learning this fall. Our hope is that Back to School will be just that – a return to our school buildings. 

We know, however, based on our conversations with our public health partners, that strict social distancing requirements will likely remain in effect into August and beyond. Additionally, until a vaccine is in place it is possible that there could be outbreaks that would force BVSD and our community to return to more restrictive situations.

That is why we have been working on a five-phase reintroduction plan that would provide the flexibility needed to meet whatever situation we face when we return and throughout next school year. As you may recall from the last communication on the Reintroduction Plan, Phase 1 is most restrictive, limiting our instruction to full-time Home Learning, whereas Phase 5, our least restrictive phase, allows for full-time in-person learning. 

 

Regardless of the phase, we have identified four priorities that we will focus on throughout the entire reintroduction process:

  • Ensure health, well-being and safety of all students and staff
  • Maximize student academic growth
  • Provide supports to teachers and staff
  • Assure operational and financial viability
     

Below is an outline of how we intend to meet these priorities in each phase:

 
 

New Guidance is continuing to shape our options
This week, the Colorado Department of Education released a draft framework and toolkit for school districts across the state, which is in alignment with the guidance provided for schools by the Centers for Disease Control and our plans for Phase 3, the reintroduction of students to small group, in-person learning – in combination with continued Home Learning instruction.

Overall, the guidelines seek to create small, stable groups of students and staff by requiring physical distancing, limiting movement throughout school buildings, restricting large groups or gatherings (no cafeterias, recess, libraries or assemblies), and prohibiting overnight or day field trips. 

Here are some of the highlights of the health requirements we are working to meet:

Health Screening

  • All staff and students screened before school, everyday.
  • Schools are being encouraged to consider multiple entry points with staggered arrival and drop off times, if possible.

Face Covers

  • Staff and students will be encouraged to wear face covers in alignment with public health recommendations, especially when physical distancing is difficult.

Handwashing

  • Regular, frequent hand washing and sanitizing breaks. For instance, students and staff may be encouraged to wash hands or use sanitation stations inside classrooms hourly, as well as after using restrooms, recess, and when eating.

Physical Space

  • 6 ft physical distancing between desks
  • One-way hallways - marked with directional signs/tape
  • Students stay in classrooms - teachers move as needed but as little as possible
  • No traditional water fountains. Only automatic, no touch water bottle filling stations would be allowed

Materials/Supplies

  • No lockers to minimize gathering
  • All students would have their own individual supplies and materials. If supplies are used between groups they must be disinfected

Lunch

  • Food would be eaten in classrooms or outside with class group

Restrooms

  • Limited access based on square footage of space and/or number of stalls

As you can imagine, these limitations, as well as the current Safer at Home order restrictions that limit groups to no larger than 10 people create some real challenges to solve. While we know many families want students to return to school full-time, the capacity of our system is greatly limited by social distancing requirements. For instance, consider busing. On a bus that typically carries 65 students,  maintaining the required distance would reduce that number to 8 or so.

 

BEFORE

With Social Distancing

 

Phase 3: Parameters of Possibilities 
Our Reintroduction Task Force has been developing a wide range of scenarios ranging from daily in-person learning opportunities, to weekly blocks of in-person instruction followed by weekly blocks of home learning. 

As you can imagine, we must balance a number of factors as we consider each scenario, including the health guidelines and priorities above, the needs of our working families and the feasibility and cost of each option. With that in mind, we have focused on: 

  • Providing more consistent in-person learning schedules at the elementary level, while allowing for more flexibility for students in grades 6-12. 
  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Limiting the mixing and crossing of students and staff in buildings and on buses
  • Providing adequate time to disinfect rooms, furniture, learning materials and buses between sessions.
 

Your Feedback Will Make Our Plan Better
We view feedback from our community as a gift. 

Already we have received great feedback through student and parent surveys that will help us to improve Home Learning, in the fall. We know how crucial it is for us to get Home Learning right, because it remains an important tool in each phase of our reintroduction plan. In fact, as we have said before, students will continue to have access to all-online instruction from their home school, if they choose. 

In the coming weeks, we will be looking for feedback, as we continue to develop these scenarios. In fact, we are launching a new online tool called Let’s Talk BVSD, which will help us to facilitate dialogue with our community on this and other efforts within the Boulder Valley School District. Look for additional information in the near future about how you can join the conversation, as well as opportunities to share other ideas that you may have as we approach reintroducing students next fall.

 

   

Boulder Universal Special Enrollment
Families wishing to pursue enrolling their students in online learning only for the entire 2020-21school year, regardless of what Phase we are in, may do so by submitting a request to attend Boulder Universal. 

This opportunity is open to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. It is a one year enrollment. 

Enrollment for these students will revert to back to the original school for the 2021-22 school year. This means students will not have to give up their seat at their current school in order to attend BU for 20-21 as is required by the normal open enrollment process. Charter schools determine their OE process. If you are enrolled at a Charter School, please reach out to them to confirm if they will automatically re-enroll the student. There are more details and the link to the request form on our website here.

 

BVSD Buildings to Remain Closed Through July
BVSD’s facilities will be closed through at least July 31, 2020. By keeping our buildings closed, we hope to continue to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our community and allow our staff to focus on our number one priority – preparing for the potential reintroduction of students this fall.

Lifelong Learning has gone virtual
With BVSD buildings closed this summer, Lifelong Learning will continue to offer online options for kids, teens, and adults this summer, as well as some socially-distanced in-person opportunities. Learn about their offerings at lll.bvsd.org

Food Bag Program continuing
BVSD strives to continue to provide for its students and families even while school is not in session. The BVSD Food Bag distribution will continue into July (end date TBD)

When: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. 

(Note: There will be no distribution on Thursday, July 2, due to the District holiday)

Where: Sanchez ES, Crest View ES, Columbine ES, Emerald ES, Louisville MS, Nederland Middle/Senior High School, and University Hill ES. Learn more at food.bvsd.org


Next Update: Mid-June
While there remains a lot of uncertainty about exactly what August will look like, know that we remain committed to keeping you updated, even if we don’t have all the answers. We are planning on providing regular updates on the reintroduction plan and our budget to the Board of Education at their meetings (June 9 and 23), and you can expect a written update in mid-June.

 

Until then, enjoy the beautiful summer weather!

 

Rob Anderson
Superintendent
Boulder Valley School District


 

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