Plans for Back to School in the era of COVID-19

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Carolyn Nohe

Dear Boulder Valley Families,

In this email:

While we have not yet finished the school year, I know many folks in BVSD are already turning their attention to the fall and what our plans will be for returning to school. I have received a number of letters from parents and staff, some longingly hoping that school will be back to normal by then, while others are very concerned by the prospect of sending their students back to our buildings too soon.  This is especially concerning for families with members that are at higher risk for severe illness from the virus.

There is no doubt that all of us are dreaming of a Back to School when the virus has been defeated, all of our students can hug their new teachers and march together into our buildings. The reality, according to our partners in public health, is that it will likely be a while longer before this is possible. Depending on the situation, they have indicated that strict social distancing restrictions may stay in effect throughout the summer and into the fall.

Currently, under Safer at Home, in-person gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and while these restrictions will slowly lift, we know these restrictions will impact many of our summer pastimes including everything from baseball games to firework displays to swimming pools.

To be prepared, we are planning for the likelihood that some level of restrictions will be in place when classes resume in August and that those restrictions may tighten or lessen based on the data public health collects.  

As a result, we are preparing five phases of learning options, from the most restrictive, with Home Learning continuing all the way to a return to normal operations, in which all students are back in school. Knowing the importance of in-person learning, but also recognizing that many families may not immediately feel comfortable sending their students to school, we are envisioning a blended approach to learning that will permit students to receive instruction regardless of the setting most appropriate at the time. Additionally, it will provide the district with flexibility in meeting the restrictions at any given time, even if we cannot yet know what they may require. Please know that all of these plans are subject to change. Even the phases may be modified. 

Additionally, we will be prepared to react quickly, in any of the following phases, to the potential of small outbreaks of the virus, which might prompt increased restrictions, including the possibility of school or district closures.

Please Note: we understand that families may not be comfortable rejoining in-person learning as the phases allow students to do so. In the event that students wish to participate in 100% online school they may do so by attending our long-standing online school Boulder Universal with a wide range of K-12 learning options.

 

COVID-19 Reintroduction Model

COVID19 Reintroduction Model

Phase 1
The most restrictive situation is when we are under a Stay at Home or similar order. In-person learning is not permitted, so all learning is conducted remotely via Home Learning. 

I do want to acknowledge the feedback we’re hearing from parents and staff regarding Home Learning. We are making adjustments as necessary before returning in the fall and in the event remote learning continues to be required. We will be improving consistency and expectations, as well as updating attendance and grading policies. 

Secondary students will be receiving a home learning survey this week. Another survey will be going out to elementary parents soon. Both will help provide us with important feedback that we will use to improve.
 

Phase 2 
Restrictions permit the resumption of limited in-person learning activities. Small, prioritized groups of students, who may not have equitable access to education through Home Learning, will have the opportunity to receive direct in-person instruction if their families desire. Home Learning will remain in place for all other students. 
 

Phase 3
As restrictions continue to ease, it is likely that only a portion of the student population will be allowed to return to buildings at any given time, due to strict social distancing guidelines and similar to the restrictions (e.g. 50% capacity) in place for workplaces under Safer at Home. Knowing that social distancing guidelines will continue to be in place and not all families will feel comfortable returning to school, BVSD will offer a blended model of instruction. This design will enable students and families to participate in both in-person instruction and remote learning as schools are able to accommodate more students on campuses. Families that wish to continue with remote learning only can access BVSD's online school, Boulder Universal.
 

Phase 4
As restrictions are further eased, social distancing is relaxed or no longer required, the majority of our students will return to a normal in-person schedule. BVSD will, however, provide flexibility for families who may not yet feel comfortable returning to a traditional learning environment and continue to allow students to take advantage of online learning opportunities. Students who prefer to continue 100% online learning will access learning through our BVSD online school, Boulder Universal.


Phase 5
When there are no longer health-related restrictions affecting our community, BVSD will be able to return to students learning largely in-person at their schools. Again, as always, online opportunities will remain available via Boulder Universal.

 

Reintroduction Family Feedback Survey


We know that our families are in very different places regarding their comfort with sending students back to our buildings. Please help us to gauge where we stand today by participating in our very brief Reintroduction Family Feedback Survey. It takes less than a minute and will help to inform our efforts, as we prepare for this fall.
 

Vulnerable Populations


The Boulder Valley School District recognizes we have students who are vulnerable and at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or have immediate family members who are. We will work directly with those families, on a case-by-case basis, to address their specific needs and ensure appropriate precautions are in place to provide the safest learning environment for them.  
 

Next Steps


Our recovery task force, composed of representatives from departments and schools throughout the district is tasked with finalizing plans for this phased reintroduction to school. You can expect regular communication from this team, with the next update scheduled before the end of this month, as well on a new webpage we’ve set up on this topic.

Plus, you can join us on Thursday morning, May 14,  for Let’s Talk Education. Beginning at 8 a.m. on BV22 (Comcast Channel 22 and online at www.bvsd.org/bv22) we will discuss this high level plan and answer questions, which can be submitted via this form

As always, we will be closely monitoring any orders and guidance from the governor, as well as expert advice from the Centers for Disease Control, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Education and our local public health departments. 

It is important to once again mention that, as we slowly continue our progress back towards normal, there is a possibility that outbreaks may occur or viral cases could surge, prompting the return to more restrictive environments and Home Learning.

 

We appreciate your patience and understanding throughout this entire process.
 

Sincerely,

 

Rob Anderson
Superintendent
Boulder Valley School District


 

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