Days after its release, on Monday, July 20, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, (CDPHE) released updated guidance for reopening schools in Colorado. Two days later, the El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) revised its guidance requesting local schools not reopen until Aug. 17, allowing for time to better understand the trajectory and impact of COVID-19 cases in El Paso County following the statewide face covering mandate.
Reliable plans are difficult to develop knowing each day brings a host of new statistics, conflicting expert opinion and revised guidance.
Over the last week, we have also been listening to feedback from the diverse perspectives of our community. We continue to revise plans that consider all feedback and input. We are committed to plans that best protect the health and safety of staff and students, offer options to parents and retain the best educational benefit for students. As we work to update our plan and ensure its approach, many have questions and are seeking more clarity. Please know our district administration, along with our school teams, are working tirelessly to update our plans.
In our communication last Friday, we indicated you could expect to hear more information from your school. Yesterday, I asked principals to not provide further communication regarding reopening until we feel plans are in a more stable place.
During these unprecedent times, and under these ever-changing conditions, we know our plan will never be truly final. We must therefore be agile and accept revisions will be necessary in planning for the school year and probably after the school year starts.
At this point, what we do know is the first day of school for students will be delayed by one week. The first day of school for students will now be Aug. 24 (not Aug. 17). It is likely the first several days of school will include a “soft” or “staggered” start bringing in small groups of students each day. This delay will allow more flexibility for planning and preparation and more time to evaluate data.
We do not know what changes may occur in our plan, but we will provide updated information as soon as we can. All changes will be published in the Return to School section of asd20.org, and we will highlight those changes through our 20Alert emails and this eNewsletter.
Many of us feel a sense of urgency for information, especially in this uncertain and changing environment. We ask for patience and grace as we navigate a process to best prepare for a successful start. As I stated last night during the Board of Education meeting, reopening plans could include options of 100% in-person learning, 100% remote learning, or something in between. We continue to evaluate viable options for the best “between” plan.
Be well and be safe.
Superintendent of Schools
Academy District 20