Let's Talk Ep7: Looking ahead to the 2020-21 School Year

COVID19 Reintroduction Model
Carolyn Nohe

We have received lots of feedback and questions in response to the reintroduction model and plan that we shared with families and staff this week. It will take time to answer everyone’s questions as things change. We will do our best to provide information and process and be as transparent as possible about what we are thinking. 

Let’s Talk Episode 7: Reintroduction 

Guests:

Dr. Rob Anderson, Superintendent

Dr. Margaret Crespo, Area Superintendent, Southwest Schools

Stephanie Faren, Director of Health Services

Chris Brecht, School and Network Leadership Coordinator

 

“One thing everyone is unified on is wanting to know what’s going to happen. And they want to get back to normal as soon as possible,” said Superintendent Rob Anderson. “We are taking the responsibility of educating students and keeping them safe both very seriously. Those two things can compete.”

“It is a challenge and the district will be taking a phased approach and will aim to be as predictable as we can for the community. We have three months before we’re scheduled to be back in person. A lot can change in three months. We are doing everything we can to be thoughtful about the process.

Are you contemplating the damage that virtual schooling is placing on families and students- anxiety, financial burden, teaching?

Dr Anderson: Absolutely. We have limited choices right now. It’s not like we can be in schools and we’re choosing not to be. We have to be safe. Is virtual learning creating gaps in students' learning? Yes, there is no doubt about it. The things we have tried in virtual learning have helped to create a sense of some normalcy. This virus is going to have impacts on all aspects of our society. Education is not immune from that. We are going to be thoughtful, do everything we can to get back to in person learning as fast as we can. But we’re going to do it safely and in conjunction with local health officials.

 

We would like to know the real possibility if we will be able to continue school or if there will be an at home after the summer?

Stephanie Faren:  It is a really uncomfortable place to be. We don’t know exactly what summer and fall will look like. We have seen really good results from all the social distancing, staying at home, masks that people have been doing. We wait and see how that rolls out and how the virus responds to that and then we will make next steps from there. The only certainty we have is that we will work closely with local public health to ensure health and safety of students is our priority. That could mean we may have to go back to more restrictive environments and we might phase in and out depending on how it is going.
 

What will blended learning look like?

Chris Brecht: It’s a work in progress. It’s our goal to remain transparent. We are working with a variety of stakeholders. As we develop out each of those scenarios, maintaining restrictions from health officials, we will share that out. We have time to get that right. As we plan for different phases, we are also planning for going between those phases. We may have to move forward or back through those phases. 

Stephanie: We are working with public health now before we get to the point of when to switch so we know how we are getting close to that. Forecasting how it is going in our community and how we respond to that. 
 

Children are not at risk for the virus. Our children need to be back at school and getting an education.  Why are we putting the needs of the sick and old ahead of children?

Stephanie: Children do get sick from the virus and get ill. They tend to have less severe or no symptoms when they do get it. It’s a novel virus. It’s brand new; we’ve had it for only 6months. In 6 months we’re making a lot of assumptions about things. The concern is that because children don’t get sick, they are spreading it without us knowing about it. We need to keep ahold of community spread to be able to ease restrictions. We need a lot more time to be sure.
 

Have we discussed reemphasized and supervised hand washing especially among younger children during reintroduction?

Stephanie: That absolutely will be a part of our return. Healthy hygiene and habits will go a long way to prevent COVID transmission and flu and colds. We are looking at regular handwashing times throughout the day, lessons for teachers and nurses as well as signage. We will definitely have that as a part of our return to schools.
 

Questions about home learning

Chris: No matter how hard we have worked over the past few months to stand up what we have, it’s not going to replace in person instruction that teachers have been doing for years.

We are taking into consideration all the feedback, all the things we need to improve upon. Creating more consistency for parents whether in platforms or synchronous learning opportunities, differences between schools. If we return to at home learning, we will be improving - Home learning 2.0. 

Dr Anderson: Our hope is to get better and better and meet the needs of our kids. We have a lot to learn. If you give us a few months I promise you what we’ll see in the fall, our teachers will be more prepared, our district will be more prepared, our parents will be more prepared. We have amazing people in our district and they did something that is phenomenal. You get better by listening to people, you process that and you make better plans.

 

What is your plan for students on IEPs? 

Margaret: Our special ed department is working hard to connect with families and trying to meet their needs as best they can. We will be looking for groups of students based on needs and availability and defining what that looks like. We are aware of students who need the support. We will support and we will all get there together. Continued information coming

 

Mental Health risks

Margaret: If any parent or student knows of a situation, there is information on the website. We don’t want anyone to be struggling. We have tried through student support services, engagement team, to reach out to those students who aren’t engaging. Early on, we gave social-emotional resources. At the start of the year, we will be focused on making students feel connected no matter how we come back.

 

Will we lose our spot at our neighborhood school? / Boulder Universal Option

Margaret: Boulder Universal is a full-time online learning environment. It’s an option for those who want a full-time virtual option. You don’t have to homeschool; you don't have to go somewhere else. If you like your school community, but want to stay at home, we will work with families to make the best decision possible. Additional communication to come.

 

Financial Stability

Dr Anderson: Throughout this entire year we have continued to pay everyone, even if they couldn’t work. BVSD, like almost all districts across the state, will be looking at significant cuts over the next month/month and a half. We do have reserves but this could be a multi year financial situation. We will be thoughtful and minimize impact on kids. We haven’t gotten specifics on how deep the cuts will be. We will be working with our Board, starting with a worksession next Tuesday and our Executive team to develop some guiding principles on this. More to come.

 


 

Recent Stories