Our current environment is far from perfect and far from ideal for public education. We can and will get through the many challenges we face, but only with the support of our community. As the environment continues to change and evolve, I ask for your flexibility and understanding as we respond to changes.
Although the first two weeks of school have been successful and exhilarating, we are ending this week with heavy hearts. On behalf of the district, I would like to extend our condolences to our military and the families who lost loved ones this week in Afghanistan. These horrific events hit close to home. Academy District 20 has a long and close partnership with our military. We mourn with you and are keeping you in our hearts.
As we stated last week, we want students in school and engaged with in-person learning five-days a week. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community, unfortunately more students and staff are impacted, resulting in required quarantines.
To mitigate spread and keep quarantine numbers low, schools are trying to keep students in smaller groups, utilize outdoor spaces for class time as much as possible, and limit contact time indoors during lunch and recess.
We also continue following the COVID-19 requirements published by El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) and encourage our families to follow the county’s recommendations; including wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, and screening your students for illness before sending them to school. Any symptoms of illness should result in students or staff staying home.
In the absence of universal masking, quarantines will be a reality. While we respect the individual decision to mask or not, mask wearing does impact quarantines. Per the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) protocols, there are three, and only three, exemptions from quarantines.
A student or staff member is not required to quarantine if:
Both the COVID-19 positive person and exposed person are wearing masks,
The exposed person is vaccinated, or
The exposed person is within 90 days of a positive COVID-19 test.
Per the latest guidance from CDPHE, these are the only exceptions. If state or local health officials modify these in the future, we will adjust accordingly.
We must all do our part to keep our students and staff in class, participating in activities and out of quarantines. Employing these layers of mitigation, we can minimize positive cases and quarantines.
Please read the full set of COVID-19 protocols for fall 2021 to get more detailed information.
Strategic Plan and Mission, Vision + Values
You may remember, a few years ago, we reached out to all stakeholders about their hopes for our future. One of the top requests was for strategic direction and clarity around our mission, vision and values. Therefore, building a strategic plan, and evaluating our mission and values, became one of my top priorities.
After nearly two years of research, listening, brainstorming, planning, editing and sharing, I’m excited to announce we are rolling out the district’s first ever Strategic Plan, with an updated mission, vision and values statements. The plan also strategically integrates the work from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force.
Following this new strategic framework provides our organization a clear direction we can all work toward. It will propel us into the future with purpose, clarity and alignment.
We invite you to read about our new mission, vision, values and strategic framework. As you read about this new direction, you will notice our focus for the 2021-22 school year: Create a culture of belonging for all.
As we thought about how to achieve our mission and vision, and live our values, we realized it all starts with creating a culture of belonging. We must each understand our role and our actions in building and sustaining a culture of belonging. We must embrace it, talk it, walk it, demonstrate it, and expect it of one another.
One of the first steps in doing so, requires establishing an understanding of how our constituents define belonging. To do this, we need your help.
We kindly ask that you take five minutes in the next two weeks to complete a two-question survey. This will help us understand your definitions of belonging. This survey is for our parents/guardians, staff/teachers and community/patrons. Later this semester we will engage with our students to understand their definitions of belonging.
Note: if you need this survey to be translated into a different language, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We are excited to keep growing and evolving to become a place where all students, all staff and all parents/guardians, understand our district and their school is where they belong because they are respected, cared for, listened to, included, and valued.
This is only the beginning of our journey. This fall we will dig into our new mission, vision, values and strategic plan together, and we will provide regular updates about our progress. We ask that you please stay tuned and actively participate throughout this journey.
Before closing, I would like to thank all those who contributed to creating our new Strategic Plan: The Strategic Plan Steering Committee, the Strategic Plan Think Tank, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, and each of you who participated in one of our in-person community forums, or online town halls. This work would not be possible without your time, thinking and feedback.
Be safe and be well.
Superintendent of Schools
Academy District 20