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Superintendent Community Message - 2/26/21

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Script from Video:
Hello 9-R Families.  It is so great to see Spring coming our way.  I want to update you on our continued effort to expand our school days for in-person learning. Many are anxious to see an expansion of our  in-person services.  We are also hopeful, but are balancing our excitement with our commitment not to turn back as we move forward.  We are working to ensure that we maintain our current level of service and not put our community at risk of having to reduce the time our children currently have at school.
During our time back, we have experienced a number of quarantines - almost 25 since February 1st.  At any time, we’ve had up to 100 students on quarantine.  While that is unfortunate, we do need to remember that this means that 4,200 students are still in school.  Quarantines are a sign of our system working to protect against spread in our schools.  These quarantines are largely a result of contractions in social gatherings outside of school.  It’s incredibly important that our greater community continue to limit gatherings of non-household individuals and continue to practice physical distancing and other mitigation techniques.  Please help us by reminding your children to follow these practices so we can maintain stability at school and in our community.  We no longer flood your email boxes with a notification everytime a quarantine takes place but do make this information available to those interested.  Information on each quarantine can be found on the main page of the website at www.durangoschools.org

A few weeks ago, our State changed its color dial allowing more rapid movement in color levels based upon one week of data, as opposed to the prior two week data collection.  Our community did transition to blue from orange and then quickly found itself back in yellow.  The chart presented here show how quickly our community levels are now changing..  Our goal as a district is not to change schedules until we  have a consistent pattern in our community data.  We all want our kids in school full time five days per week, but we want to do so when our community data supports stability.  Moving kids to five days and then taking that away is not a situation I believe any of us want to embrace.  We’re moving deliberately and at a slighter slower pace than the community level changes so that your children have stability in their learning.

At this time, the district will closely monitor our community data, and after two weeks in a category, we will notify the community of a change at the start of the next week.  This will likely lead to elementary and middle school moving to a five day a week schedule, and then moving high school to a more full-day schedule.  We will constantly monitor our data to make sure we move carefully.   If our community sees increased transmission after moving forward, we will also monitor for a full week before moving back to a more restrictive schedule.  We know that COVID is unpredictable and want to work with our community as we all do our part to contain this virus.  

At this time, we are hopeful that the new quarter which starts March 29 will find our secondary schools moving toward an increased schedule.  We continue to closely monitor our data in hopes that we could increase our elementary schools sooner.  We will prioritize increasing time for our students starting with our youngest students moving up to our high school.  High school students do have the same risk of contracting and spreading the virus as adults so we are moving carefully.  Again, we’ve seen a higher rate of positive cases in our high school students.  Please help us by encouraging our teenagers to recognize the risk of spread through social gatherings.  Their behavior impacts not only their learning, but also their cohort peers’ ability to maintain in-person learning..

Again, we thank you for your patience and partnership during this very unusual year.  We know that we play an important role beyond simply educating our children but providing a safe place for our children during the day while parents engage in their vocations.  It's a challenging time for all of us during this pandemic that we are all anxious to see go away.  As a leader, it is tough to know that I’m not able to make decisions that everyone will appreciate given the massive disruptions COVID-19 is causing, but I hope you  know that I am working to make decisions based on data and the best interest of all parties.  I continue to be available for conversation or dialogue.  Reach out to me by phone of email.

We are planning for a normal in-person school year next year and ask families to be prepared to respond to the calls to re-register and confirm your enrollment.  We don’t anticipate continuing on-line models next year as our district is looking forward to being back full in-person next year.  Families who desire an on-line experience are encouraged to look at Connections Academy, our district sponsored on-line school.  While we recognize that some mitigation strategies may need to stay in place for the Fall, we do feel our year will be based upon an in-person option and full day, five day a week programming,  I hope you have a great weekend and again, thanks for entrusting your children to our district.