Reintroduction Update

Back Together BVSD
Superintendent Anderson

Dear Boulder Valley Families and Staff,

On Tuesday, we presented an update to the Board of Education regarding our Reintroduction Plan. There are some important developments, which provide more detail about the five phases we are developing to ensure we have the flexibility that may be needed as we approach – and go through – the upcoming school year.


 

In this email:

  • Very optimistic, but ready for whatever may come

  • What can you expect in August?

  • Our considerations

  • Phase 1: Improvements to Home Learning

  • Phase 2: A focus on students with severe needs

  • Phase 3: Scenarios for Elementary, Middle, High Schools and Early Childhood Education 

  • Phase 4: Instructional support as we near normal

  • Athletics and Activities: Practices resume on June 15 for fall sports


 

Very optimistic, but ready for whatever may come


This week Governor Jared Polis spoke to the State Board of Education and he shared his hope for the new school year.

"Most likely, and I express a strong sense of optimism, most schools will be back largely in a normal way," Polis said. 


9NEWS: Colorado Board of Education meets with Gov. Polis, state health department as they piece together plans for fall

The Colorado Sun: Gov. Jared Polis says coronavirus contingency plans are key for schools to reopen

We too are cautiously optimistic and truly hope that Back to School is as normal as possible for our students in BVSD.

We have certainly heard from some in our community who are advocating that we return back to normal operations this fall – with no social distancing, regardless of what the situation is with COVID-19. They often cite that children are not at high risk for the disease.

We certainly understand the desire to return back to normal, especially after months of restrictions. The past few months have been difficult. 

We know that in-person instruction is best for most of our students and we understand the great toll this has had on our families and the emotional health of our students. We will do everything possible to support our students' return, not only to the classroom, but also to specials, athletics, activities and everything else that makes school something that our kids look forward to. 

Our approach, from the beginning, has been to prepare for every scenario. If the opportunity presents to go back to normal, we will be ready. We will also be prepared if that doesn’t happen.  The reality is that students will probably be learning in various different ways next year as this pandemic will unfortunately dictate.  

Preparing for all scenarios is the responsible thing to do.


What can you expect in August?

As the governor also shared, it is too early to predict what August and September may look like when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. BVSD and school districts across the state are expected to have plans in place to limit social interactions in schools and react quickly to slow the spread of the disease if an outbreak occurs. 

In fact, we have identified more than 120 considerations to be addressed prior to August. While we won’t go through all of them, I want to share a few, so that you understand the process we are going through as we develop plans for each phase.

As I shared a couple weeks ago, 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 (including health guidelines from above)

  • Maximize student academic growth

  • Provide supports to teachers and staff

  • Assure operational and financial viability

Based on what we know today, here are the health and safety guidelines we are working to meet.

  • Stable groups of students and staff - minimizing crossover of groups/classes

  • Physical distancing is essential 

  • Minimal movement throughout the building

  • No large groups/gatherings - Cafeteria / PE / Recess / Library / Assemblies 

  • No field trips (overnight or during the day)

  • Everyday health screening

  • Prepare for short and longer-term closures

  • Restrict non-essential visitors

 

Finally, throughout the process, we are considering a number of factors, including:

  • Sibling cohort/connections

  • Teachers as parents 

  • Electives/Specials

  • Technology 

  • Employee agreements

  • Legal considerations 

  • Alignment to neighboring districts

 

BVSD is the place to be

While there is a lot we don’t control, we are focused on making what we do – the learning opportunities our students experience – as rigorous as possible moving forward.

Here in the Boulder Valley School District, we have done an excellent job in responding to this crisis – and I want our families to know that this is the place to be.

Regardless of how you feel today about returning to in-person learning in the fall, we encourage you to stay with your neighborhood or choice school. We will continue to hear feedback and make improvements at all phases of our reintroduction to make the experiences for students the best they can be in this environment.

Improvements to Home Learning


We heard your feedback. Knowing that Home Learning will continue to play a role in the majority of the phases we are working to continuously improve. Here are a few areas that we are focusing on:

 

Grading
New guidance for grading in Home Learning and blended learning situations is being developed for all levels and will be aligned with the current BVSD Grading Policy.

Consolidation of Learning Management Platforms
We will be implementing a more engaging platform for younger grades and working to improve consistency for older grades. You can expect it to be easier in the fall to find grades and feedback from teachers. Plus, we are working on guidelines to ensure all students have an opportunity to engage in synchronous learning opportunities.

Attendance Guidance
New guidance for attendance is being developed for home learning/blended learning for all levels.
 

Consistency in Grading Terms

Elementary and K-8 schools will work on Trimesters

MS and HS will work on Semesters

 

Additionally, please know if the District is in a Phase with remote instruction, the Special Education department will confer with individual families regarding individualized services.

 

reintroduction to learning

Our team is currently working on developing plans for each of 5 Phases, to permit movement between levels of restrictions and requirements as we begin and move through the school year. 

 

phase 1

Phase 1 is the most restrictive situation, in which students are unable to attend school in person and Home learning is required. It is unlikely as we return to school this fall, but may be required if there is an outbreak at a school or the pandemic situation worsens dramatically in the community.  See improvements to Home Learning.

 

phase 2

Phase 2 is a very limited return to learning, similar to that currently allowed under the governor’s current Safer-at-Home order, which limits group sizes to ten or less people.

With an eye on equity, our focus would be ensuring that our most significantly impacted students are served first. If willing and medically able, we would begin with students who have severe special needs. As space allows, we would then look to provide in-person learning for those in our Culturally Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) programs, preschool and other students who require intensive support.

 

phase 3

Phase 3 begins when social distancing restrictions ease, allowing a portion, but not all of our students to return to in-person learning at any given time. For instance, we have been anticipating situations in which students would be required to keep about 6-feet of physical distancing, reducing the capacity of our buildings, classrooms and buses significantly.

 

Options Considered for Elementary Schools

We began by considering several possible scenarios at the elementary level. Only two were considered to be feasible solutions given the current parameters and were presented to several stakeholder groups.
 

It soon became clear that the option below was not only favored by parents and staff, but also the winner when it comes to its feasibility. As a result, we are moving forward with this option for elementary schools in Phase 3.

 


In this option, weeks would be split into Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday classes. 

  • Teachers will work in teams, instructing kids four days a week, as follows:

    • Full-day classes in-person, two consecutive days a week

    • Full-day online classes on the other two consecutive days
       

  • Wednesday would be used for teacher planning and deep cleaning of the schools

 

To give us feedback regarding considerations to keep in mind as we move forward, join the conversation at Let’s Talk BVSD.

 

 

Middle School Level

 

We decided to build upon the elementary plan at the middle level, considering that consistency would be important for families with students at both levels, as well as in K-8 schools. 

 

  • Weeks would be split into Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday classes. 

  • Teachers will work in teams, instructing kids four days a week, as follows:

    • Full-day classes in-person, two consecutive days a week

    • Full-day online classes on the other two consecutive days 

  • Wednesday would be used for teacher planning and deep cleaning of the schools
     

Early Childhood Education
We will continue on a four-day-a-week schedule for our youngest students. They will have the opportunity to have in-person learning one day a week, in the morning or afternoon, based on the session the child’s enrollment and then will be supported with Home Learning for the remainder of the week.

 

 

High School Level

We have more flexibility at the high school level.
 

Utilizing a cohort model, high schools will be able to schedule focused, small group instruction based on student needs. In addition to the in-person learning schedule, multiple online learning opportunities will be available each week for students to engage with their teacher on class-specific content and requirements.


You can imagine that this may include things like:


 

One-on-one support

Group Work

Labs and projects that can only be done at school

 

Students with Special Needs

The Special Education department will use the plans above from general education to continue to work on a plan of supports for students with special needs.


 

phase 4

In Phase 4, most students will be able to return to in-person learning, but blended learning will still be available for students/families who do not yet feel comfortable returning to school full-time. Health safeguards will remain in effect, however, staff would be able to resume normal duties at their buildings. For instance, at an elementary level, students would be able to transition between core classes and enrichment again. At the high school level, teachers would move from team instruction to the more typical single teacher per class.

 

phase 5


Phase 5, is when all students will be able to return to in-person learning without pandemic-related health and safety measures. We will build upon the lessons learned – using blended learning opportunities to enhance instruction and provide students with flexibility.

Athletics and Activities

  • We have been working closely with our partners in public health and are proud to announce that high school athletes will be able to resume practices beginning next Monday, June 15. As we begin summer workouts with fall sports, then phase in winter and spring sports as well as activities, students will participate in screening protocols. Additionally, athletes will be expected to follow all current physical distancing, face covering and group size requirements. 

  • June 15 - Fall Sports, outside strength and conditioning, skill development, no indoor activities

  • July 1 - All Sports, Marching Band and other activity groups may begin if local conditions and health department guidelines permit

Planning for the Unpredictable

We know this is a lot of information – and a big lift for our educators. 

That is why we are also working hard to build professional development and supports, so that they will be ready to face whatever may come next school year.

Additionally, we know that moving between phases will likely cause  significant disruptions, so we have teams of educators at every school level that are working with building principals to develop plans, including identifying the amount of time that would ideally be needed to transition between different phases.

Your Feedback is Welcome

As we continue to develop these plans, we want to be sure that our students, families and staff have an opportunity to provide us feedback. Beyond reaching out to different stakeholder groups within the district, we have launched a new tool – Let’s Talk BVSD.

Currently we are asking for your feedback regarding what day of the week would work best to be closed, as we go to a four-day a week schedule and your ideas for prioritizing supports for students as we navigate the current pandemic and budget challenges.

By registering in the Let’s Talk tool, you’ll be able to get updates about projects you care about.
 

Emergency Food Distribution: Continues through August 6

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, through Aug. 6 (no distribution July 2)

Where: Sanchez Elementary, 655 Sir Galahad Drive, Lafayette; Crest View Elementary, 1897 Sumac Drive, Boulder; Columbine Elementary, 3130 Repplier Drive, Boulder; Emerald Elementary, 275 Emerald St., Broomfield; Louisville Middle, 1341 Main St., Louisville; Nederland Middle/Senior, 597 County Road 130, Nederland; and University Hill Elementary, 956 16th St., Boulder (Please Note: Due to construction, starting on July 16th, the University Hill site will be moved to Manhattan Middle, 290 Manhattan Dr., Boulder). 

If you are in a position to give, Impact on Education is continuing to raise money for its Critical Needs Fund. In addition to helping provide food and gift cards for families in need, they will be working to provide resources to families as BVSD supports students who have fallen behind during Home Learning.

 

Sign up now for Virtual Summer Enrichment


Just because our schools are closed this summer, doesn’t mean you can’t invigorate your mind and kickstart your body! Lifelong Learning is offering a variety of classes for children and adults – everything from coding and exercise to ukulele and metalworking.

CLICK HERE for the Virtual Summer Enrichment flyer.

 

Thank you

Thank you for all of your support throughout these past few months and your continued patience as we continue to plan for next year. We will continue to provide more information and offer more opportunities for feedback on our Reintroduction Plan on Let’s Talk BVSD. We will plan to update you again by the end of June.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rob Anderson
Superintendent

Boulder Valley School District


 

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