Working Advisory Group

The goal of the Working Advisory Group (WAG) is to explore ways to safely return Boulder Valley School District Students to in-person learning through a design thinking process.

Recommendations

On September 8, the Working Advisory Group made the following recommendations, which are now in the process of being implemented.

ALL STUDENTS
Outdoor Learning Opportunities
Starting September 29

We recognize that here in Colorado we are blessed to have excellent weather this time of year. The Working Advisory Group suggested allowing BVSD schools to bring students together in outdoor spaces, as long as they meet safety guidelines. In addition to allowing students the opportunity to see and interact with each other – with social distancing and masks – we believe that this will open the door for our teachers to find innovative ways to connect with students in a relatively safe environment.

These opportunities will of course be contingent upon the weather and the situation with COVID-19 both in each cohort and the community as a whole.

FOCUSED OPPORTUNITIES
With equity as a focus, the following specific student groups will be offered in-person opportunities:

Learners with the most intensive needs
By September 29

Students in our most intensive special education programs will be among the first welcomed back to school. As long as they are able to meet health precautions, including the wearing of face coverings, and maintain social distancing they will be able to return to in-person learning two days a week for students in grades 3-12 and four days a week for students in grades K-2 beginning with the implementation of Phase 2 +. In an effort to ramp up to the implementation of phase 2+ we are beginning a pilot roll-out for students in our HS intensive programs that will provide them the opportunity to participate in 2 half days designed to support their access to home learning. This is set to start September 8th. 

K-2 Return to the Classroom
Starting September 29

As you might recall, our youngest learners have been one of our biggest concerns from the very beginning. Education is extremely important for each and every one of our students, but our Working Advisory Group acknowledged that this time is especially precious for our kindergarten through second-grade students, who are laying their educational foundations. Research has shown that if students fall behind in these early grades, it is incredibly difficult for them to catch up. Not to mention that we also recognize that children at this age also require a lot more one-on-one support. They are less-able to stay still during synchronous learning opportunities or complete assignments independently and therefore the lessons are a larger burden on our families.

As a result, as long as they are able to meet health precautions, including the wearing of face coverings, we will be offering the opportunity for up to four days of in-person instruction for this age group.

We hope to follow shortly after with a reintroduction of preschool students, but this will take a little extra time because we are needing to reassign staff members who were temporarily utilized for childcare, back to preschool classes. 

Return to Classroom at some mountain schools
Starting September 29

Internet service is an issue for some of our families who live in the mountains, so we are also prioritizing the return of students in our mountain schools. Initially, students at Gold Hill and Jamestown elementary schools will be returning four days a week, starting September 29. We are still exploring ways to expand access to learning at the schools in Nederland for those families that do not have access to high-speed internet at home.

Hybrid learning at Boulder TEC
Starting September 29

Boulder TEC’s focus on hands-on career-development opportunities and small cohort groups makes it a good candidate for students to attend two days a week in person and two days online.

 

Related BVSD Updates

Phase 2+ Limited In-Person Learning starting September 29
Working Advisory Committee opens the door to in-person learning for all students outdoors and for select groups indoors
Exploring how to safely return to in-person learning
Exploring ways to return to in-person learning begins with building empathy for stakeholder needs, concerns
Reintroduction Update: BVSD now planning to begin school remotely on August 26

About the Working Advisory Group

Working Advisory Group composure, showing that there are four parents, five principals, 15 teachers and 10 district staff.

The Working Advisory Group began in August as a collaboration between BVSD and BVEA in an effort to find ways to return students to in-person learning as the district announced that it would start the school year in Phase 1 - Home Learning due to logistic issues and concerns in the community around safety.

It consists of 34 members, including teachers, parents, community and school leaders and is co-facilitated by Boulder Valley Education Association President Terri Mulford and BVSD Area Superintendent Sam Messier.

Timeline

Working Advisory Group Timeline: The committee started on 8/11, presented initial recommendations on 9/8 and will return 9/22

The working advisory group began its work on August 11, 2020.

It presented its initial recommendations several weeks ahead of schedule on September 8. Those four initiatives will be implemented on Tuesday, September 29.

The group's work is not finished. It is continuing to meet and will share additional recommendations on September 22. 

About Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a solution-focused process that many organizations and companies, including the Boulder Valley School District, use to work towards potential solutions for complicated problems.
 

Through a six-step iterative process we seek to better understand the user and their needs, challenge our own assumptions and redefine problems. 

Six Steps of Design Thinking

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test
  • Implement

The goal is to generate new ideas that can be tested, implemented quickly and improved continuously moving forward.

Graphic from Medium.com showing the six steps of Design Thinking: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test and Implement.

Source: Medium.com | What is Design Thinking?  

 
The process popularized by Tim Brown, and David Kelley of the Stanford D.School.