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9-R Community Update - 11.20.20

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As shared last weekend, the district will focus its communication on Friday to update you on important matters at the district level during this pivot to remote learning for our students. In this video, we hope to share updates with you on:
  • The rationale for the shift to remote learning;
  • The current status of our community with regard to the COVID crisis;
  • Our pathway forward as we look forward to reopening our schools in a safe and careful manner; and,
  • Reminders about services currently available to our students as we provide remote services to our K-12 students.
You may recall I sent out a communication on Sunday, November 8 when we were seeing increased stress on our system. At that point, I couldn’t imagine having to take the step two days later to close our schools. On Tuesday, November 10, we had four active cases of COVID identified in our schools, causing quarantines of multiple cohorts. When a case is identified, we must send home all staff members who were in contact with the individual, as well as students. Each quarantine led to the immediate release of 3 to 6 staff members from duty. While most could provide remote support for students from home, substitute coverage was required in classrooms where students were still present, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidelines that we are obligated to follow.
Since that time, our community has seen huge increases in case counts and a major stress on our local medical system. Since closing in person instruction, we’ve continued to manage both student and staff quarantine notifications and tracking. Our work certainly did not stop with the pivot to remote learning - since doing so, we’ve had 7 additional student quarantine groups. Last Saturday alone, we had seven positive cases identified among staff and students that our team tracked to determine appropriate responses based upon the available information.
Today, our community moved to the Red Level - Severe Risk from Orange - High Risk. We have yet to get community transmission under control and must all step up and do our part to protect those most vulnerable in our community. Yes, the virus may have minimal impact on many, yet for some, it has a potential to be life threatening. This is less about us and more about those in our community. With new vaccines on the horizon, we look forward to putting the threat of this virus behind us.
We must recognize how important it is that we do quarantine when told to do so, keeping ourselves isolated from others in the community during the time period in which we may develop symptoms or be contagious. Many see a quarantine as time off from work, but continue their typical shopping, recreation, and socializing routines. Such behavior puts everyone at risk during this heightened time of transmission. Remember, we are contagious long before we develop symptoms and run the risk of exposing others with compromised immune systems and those of advanced age. I don’t think anyone wants to take the risk of putting another loved one’s life in danger.
During the school closure, we do ask you to keep your school advised if your child is experiencing symptoms and receives any test results. Testing at Cedar Diagnostics continues to remain available for students of 9-R. As we restart school in the future, it will be helpful for us to keep track of our students who have already been exposed and have recovered. Remember, please do keep your child isolated from others when they have symptoms consistent with COVID to prevent further spread.
This won’t last forever if we take this seriously as a community. I, like all of you, have great fatigue over the changes that have been required as a result of the COVID threat. Now is not the time to let our guard down. Most importantly, our community actions will impact our ability to return children to school and restore the ability of our community and our economy to function as designed.
It is our intent to resume in-person schooling as soon as possible. We are proud that we accomplished almost 11 weeks of schooling this year, when many districts in the state were unable to offer any in-person education. We formed a Return to Learn Task Force this Fall that has focused on how to make changes to our systems as case counts either decrease or increase - recognizing that this COVID crisis is ever changing.
On December 1, we will take the important step of reopening our preschool programs in the district. We recognize that remote learning is not effective for this important group and we know children who participate in preschool outperform students who don’t well into their K-12 experience. This program has been deemed safe to resume under the state guidelines and with the safety measures we have in place.
Our K-12 schools will remain in a remote model, with schools offering remote support rooms to help students who are struggling, lack internet access, or simply need a safe and quiet place to work. More information can be obtained by contacting your school. We will resume services to our special needs students as well recognizing that every lost day for them can be a huge setback in their progress. And we will closely monitor our community data in December to determine what other services we can resume after the holidays. Please watch for updates as we slowly work toward resuming all services in-person for students as conditions permit.
During our remote delivery of instruction, we will continue to provide meals for any and all students who wish to take advantage of these services. Families are asked to complete the meal request form on each school’s website to ensure we have adequate meals prepared. Remote bus locations are also available to help assist families with easy access. Again, all of this information can be found on your school’s website or by calling Nutrition Services at 970-259-1630 ext. 2041.
Instructional Feedback
Your feedback helps us to continually refine and improve the instruction your children receive while remote. We want to be swift in our response to your feedback and we will ask you to consider completing this survey each Friday so that we can make adjustments early the next school week. Our teachers are striving to provide learning that is equivalent to what students would be receiving in-person and they, along with their principals and I, are excited to hear what you have to say so we know what's going well and what we can make better. Thank you in advance for taking the time to share your thoughts as our partners in your children's education. Follow the link provided with this video to share your perspectives for each of the schools your children attend.
Student Support Services
My team and I are here to support teachers in providing your children with a remarkable remote educational experience so that learning continues while your student is at home. Our system of student supports extend and enhance learning so that remote classroom instruction meets the needs of your child. This will include:

Continuing to provide indirect services as outlined in children's Individualized Education Programs. Our case managers and special services providers will continue to work with small groups and/or provide one-to-one direct services to our students with disabilities.

Continuing to provide our English Language Learners with small-groups or one on one instruction with their English Language Development teachers through their remote learning platform.

Developing resources for classroom teachers to help them provide enrichment and assignment ideas for gifted and talented students. Our Gifted and Talented facilitators are also available to co-plan or assist with lessons as needed at their schools.

Providing support for all school staff to foster social-emotional learning and trauma-informed strategies in a remote learning environment.

Bond Initiative
I also want to take the opportunity to say thank you for your support of the recent 4A Bond initiative that was on the November ballot. Our community showed strong support for education with over 71% of our community showing support. At this time, we are looking to form a citizen bond oversight committee to ensure that the district remains transparent in the projects outlined and complete them to the maximum benefit of our student population. Please do consider your willingness to serve in this important capacity to help the district continue to improve its facilities and educational system.
Again, I thank you for your efforts to support your children and again apologize that this decision became necessary for us. Working together as a community, we will overcome this, get control of the spread of the virus, and get our children back to school.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope each of you will find time to enjoy those special to you during our Fall recess next week.