As with many things this year, the 2020-21 school year will look very different than years past — even different from this spring. All summer long, the Poudre School District has been working tirelessly to implement a strategy for keeping both students and teachers safe during the fall. This is an undeniably difficult time for families and school administrators alike, as in-person learning is of course the preferred method across the board under normal circumstances.
Yet, the Poudre School District has tried hard to keep parents and guardians informed about their plans for the 2020-21 school year, which are subject to change as the year unfolds. All throughout the process, they will continue to follow local and state public health and education guidance and orders. At this point, here are the plans for this school year, including the various phases and possibilities as the pandemic evolves, plus a special option for those who are not yet comfortable with returning to in-person learning!
Following guidance and orders from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, and other public health and government officials, the district has developed four educational phases that allow the district to continue educating students while also adapting to the ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic. In short, student learning could be remote, remote with limited in-person interactions, a blend of in-person and remote learning, or fully in-person.
The decision to implement phases is made with guidance from public health officials. They hope they won’t have to implement Phases 1 or 2, but are prepared to do so if necessary. The phase for the first day of school, scheduled for August 17, will be announced closer to that date.
During Phase 1, instruction is predominantly delivered via technology, but may include the use of tangible learning materials. There will be one central location for accessing each student’s remote learning resources, such as the teacher’s page, which has messages from the teacher, links to Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams and more. This phase is not the district’s preference, and would only be implemented due to orders from health and/or state officials. Click here for more information about Phase 1.
In Phase 2, smaller select groups will meet for in-person learning while following social distancing protocols, including face coverings, maintaining 6-foot distances, and washing hands frequently. Most students will engage in a 100% remote-learning environment four days per week, following the guidelines from Phase 1. This phase is also not the district’s preference and would only be implemented due to orders from health and/or state officials. Click here for more information about Phase 2.
During Phase 3, students will engage in learning five days a week, which includes two days at school and three days at home. There will be student groups rotating with in-person learning, with just 50% of the students at school per day Monday through Thursday, and no students on campus on Fridays. The number of students allowed in each room will be limited and social distancing measures and health requirements will be followed. Click here for more information about Phase 3.
In Phase 4, schools will open with a heightened awareness of health and safety. Students will attend school each day of the week, but group sizes may be limited. All basic precautions will be followed, including social distancing and frequent hand washing. The district hopes to open in this phase, but is prepared to open in any of the other phases, as permitted by public health and state officials. Click here for more information about Phase 4.
PSD Virtual is a 100% standalone online education option for families who are not yet ready to send their children back to school for in-person learning. This is ideal for those who have children or other family members with compromised immune systems. Available to PreK–12 students, PSD Virtual is a separate alternative to all phases mentioned above. It is a year-long commitment to 100% online learning, although there is a possibility of students transitioning back to their school at the semester break. To participate in PSD Virtual, students must have a designated adult at home to partner with their teacher and support their learning, plus Internet access. All PSD Virtual students will be provided with a device to support their online learning.
The health and safety of students, staff and the community is a top priority for the Poudre School District. They are following a number of health and safety protocols in accordance with guidance and orders from public healthy and education officials, including the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Colorado Governor’s Office and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
PSD is taking the following health and safety precautions:
Students and staff members who are feeling sick should stay home
All PSD employees will conduct a COVID-19 screening before entering a school or district building
Every site will have two touchless infrared thermometers
Student temperature checks may be required upon arrival, which would include check-in procedures (still pending)
And more! See the full health and safety protocols here
For anyone experiencing difficulty with remote learning, PSD’s Information Technology staff is available for help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for help with troubleshooting laptop issues or for other tech support.
If you do not have access to the Internet, there are many options available to stay connected. PSD has vans with wireless hotspots, which will travel to neighborhoods so students can connect to the Internet. Plus, there are many places in rural areas offering free public WiFi. Additionally, many broadband, satellite and mobile service providers are offering free or reduced-cost connectivity in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here for more information about PSD’s Internet services.
As you may know, all summer athletics and other activities were cancelled through July 31. At this point, the Colorado Bandmasters Association voted to cancel this fall’s high school marching band season, and PSD feels it is important to pause all athletics and activities pending further guidance for the fall. The final decision for August and beyond will be determined and announced as soon as possible. Click here for the latest information about athletics, activities and events for this fall.
This is an undeniably difficult time for us all, as we navigate this uncertain time — and it can be especially hard on our kids, as their normal routines have been uprooted. No matter what phase PSD is in, there will be mental health services available to students and their families. Mental health specialists for your student can be accessed through your school counselor or administration team. For a list of community crisis resources, click here.
Photo Courtesy of the Poudre School District
No matter what, we’ll get through this pandemic together — and come out of it stronger than ever before. Whether it’s on Zoom, 6 feet away, or some combination of the two, we’re all in this together.