Schools News You Can Use
As the first full week of August closes out in Leadville Today it’s a good time to check in with the schools to bring readers the latest news about education in Lake County. One thing worth noting is that everyone is really trying hard in these hard, trying times. LT has heard from parents, students, teachers, bus drivers, and staff and it’s clear that people care. The Lake County School District (LCSD), and Colorado Mountain College – Leadville (CMC), as well as homeschooling families, have been good at communicating their plans as leaders piece together a new puzzle all while managing their own lives through these COVID times. Thanks for your dedication.
CMC Offers Options for Fall Semester
Registration is open and with classes at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) set to begin starting Monday, Aug. 24. With guidance from state and local public health orders, CMC is accepting registrations for fall classes. Some classes begin later this month and others will start throughout the semester.
In light of COVID-19, the college has designed flexible, in-person and virtual course options, all while keeping our students, employees and communities as safe as possible. Please visit the CMC website for a full explanation of CMC’s plan. Registering for classes, both credit and non-credit, is best accessed online. Colorado Mountain College is located in Aspen, Breckenridge, Carbondale, Dillon, Vail Valley at Edwards, Glenwood Springs, Leadville, Rifle, Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and Salida. For more information, call 800-621-8559.
To Open or Not to Open? That is The Question
By Joyce Rankin, Board of Education
The hot topic these days is how to open schools safely this fall, or, whether or not, they should be opened at all. Everyone seems to have their own opinion and is awaiting their district’s decision. When schools were originally closed to “in-person” learning last Spring, there was near-universal acceptance of the executive order to stay at home to protect yourself and your family from COVID 19. As more information was known about the Coronavirus, and people became more informed about how to protect themselves, they slowly ventured out of their homes back into the community.
With the reopening of stores and restaurants, people again felt more comfortable about returning to some semblance of normalcy, although at varying levels. Many elderly and those with compromised immunity systems still chose to remain at home or take extra precautions while the younger, less vulnerable, ventured outside. Of course, there were variations in between.
Communities are experiencing vast differences in the number of people that have been infected with the virus. In large cities there seems to be a greater risk, so schools are beginning the year at a later date or remotely (online). Other communities, especially in the rural areas have experienced far fewer cases of the virus and are opening in-person on a regular schedule. By now we’ve all heard of the different plans for opening schools being considered in the 178 school districts in Colorado, including in-person, distance, or online, blended being a combination of both and more creative “pods” where parents contract directly with teachers for small group full-day instruction.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has posted information about COVID 19 and safely opening schools on its website. This information has been updated regularly as conditions change. Local districts make their own determination regarding opening based on the CDE information generally and more specifically based on what their local health department is recommending, and with the Superintendent and locally elected Board of Education being the final authority.
The Colorado Association of School Boards cites the legality of local control by stating, “Local school boards are constitutionally entrusted with meeting the needs of students in their communities and must exercise this authority responsibly to ensure this governance model remains relevant and respected by voters and state and federal policy-makers. In sum and practically speaking, “local control of instruction” translates into the ability of individual school boards to make decisions on issues such as curriculum, personnel, budget, school calendars, and classroom policy.”
It’s a dynamic situation depending on local conditions. Uncertainty is the challenge. In order to provide more certainty, local districts are considering contingencies if there is an uptick in cases. Will the school be closed? Will a positive testing student be sent home to be quarantined? Will parents be notified of new cases? These are some of the questions local communities are working through as they plan to open.
Some districts, like Gunnison Watershed, have already developed their “initial” plan for opening. Superintendent Leslie Nichols, like CDE, has posted their plan – Return to School Handbook – on the district website. This is one way in which districts can keep parents and the taxpayer community informed of any changes as the school year progresses. If you have further questions visit your local district or school website. If you cannot find answers there, contact your local district directly or the members of your school board.
Please let me know your thoughts on this, or any other, educational concerns.
Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing Leadville and Lake County in the Third Congressional District. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in the 29 counties she represents. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials Present Plan for Leadville School Year
This week officials from the Lake County School District made the following announcement concerning the upcoming school year.
Dear Families and Students,
First and foremost, we recognize that this is a stressful and trying time for all. We have all experienced so many changes in our lives this year, especially in our schools. Our schools are part of our community, and we never go it alone. We seek feedback, make it a priority to listen to concerns and embrace new ideas. For this coming school year and beyond, the health and safety of our students and staff members are the top priority. We will work together as a community to put the education of our students first, as we never quit until we achieve academic excellence for every child.
Previously, we shared with you our plans to start the school year in our “re-entry” status which calls for face-to-face instruction and all students attending school daily. Feedback we received from our community and staff, as well as rapidly evolving public health guidelines, have resulted in a need to allow for family choice for an option that is in person as well as a remote option. Additionally, a start of school plan was presented on August 4 and the LCSD Board of Education approved the following:
- A vote to support a delayed start to school to by two weeks (start date of Aug. 31, 2020).
- A vote to support two pathways of learning, the initial color band model (online, hybrid, in person) and a virtual learning model.
- A vote to support the opening of school in a yellow/hybrid model for the first four weeks of school for all students K-12 (while thresholds are developed and health practices are implemented).
What this means for families:
- The first day of school will be Aug. 31st.
- You will have two choices of learning with LCSD
- Enrolling your child/children to attend his/her school in-person (color phases which may include in-person, online or hybrid models).
- Enrolling your child in virtual learning for first semester/year (fully online provided by Lake County School District)
- Orientation conferences for students in K-12, set for August 10 and 11 will now be August 24–27. This extension allows for one hour meetings with the teachers and families. Schools will be sharing your crew leader information and a link to sign up for a new conference once we have more information. Please watch for more information in a future communication.
- Daily meals will continue through the 28th of August for families.
The LCSD needs to hear from you with your choice of pathway by this Sunday Aug. 9. Your choice will help them plan the needs for each pathway. Please click here to complete a form by Sunday for your child’s education this fall – whether you will be choosing one of the three options:
- enrolling your child/children to attend his/her school in-person (color phases as outlined in district plans, which may include in-person, online or hybrid models)
- enrolling your child in virtual learning for first semester (fully online provided by Lake County School District)
- enrolling your child in a program outside of Lake County School District (therefore unenrolling from our district)
As you review the learning plans, please be aware that public health circumstances are rapidly evolving and we will be adaptable to ensure we are complying with local, state, and national public health guidelines. We will be in touch frequently over the next few weeks with more information including health and safety precautions that will be in place in our schools.
“We would like to take this opportunity to emphasize the value we place on relationships with our families – and our love and care for all students and staff. Moving forward, in what will no doubt be a very challenging year, we are reminded that our schools are part of a community that thrives when we all work together. When times get tough, it is even more important that we make it a priority to listen to concerns and embrace new ideas whenever we can. Please reach out to the principal of your students’ school at any time.” – Lake County School District.
Message from New LCSD Superintendent
Home School Interest Grow Locally
Last Saturday, August 1 about a dozen parents attended a 2-hour program sponsored by a local group of homeschool Moms. The information session provided everything that parents need to know regarding these options as the uncertainty of traditional in-class education navigates its own future.
Organizer Liz Cerise told Leadville Today that last weekend’s presentation went well as “We had between 10-15 moms who were all searching out information on how homeschooling works in CO.” She is the leader of High Mountain Christian Homeschoolers.
“We may do another one at some point in the future,” Cerise responded concerning another presentation on homeschooling, but nothing has been put on the calendar yet. Parents interested in learning more can reach Liz Cerise at 970-688-1717.
Neighboring Counties Present Plans
Down in neighboring Chaffee County, the Buena Vista School District – which houses the largest number of Leadville school choice students – “is positioned to re-open our schools to in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year on Monday, Aug. 31. Readers can connect with their Superintendent’s message HERE.
Meanwhile, Summit County schools distributed a media advisory of what the school start will look like “over the hill.” Summit School District has announced the Return to Learn Plan for 2020-21 school year. Summit scholars will begin the school year in a Blended Learning Model, which will provide scholars the opportunity to engage in learning 5 days every week in a mixture of both in-person and online learning.” Their start dates will be staggered, depending on grade, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 26.
Eagle County Schools have settled upon the restart date of August 25 for schools in their district which include the ski resort areas of Vail and Beaver Creek. Like all throughout Colorado, it will be a different year with their full plan outlined and updated on their website.
Regardless of what your family’s decision is it’s good to know that Colorado is a school-choice state when it comes to your child’s education and that there are numerous options for students in Leadville Today. If you know of other options, pass that along to email@example.com. In closing, let the knowledge of Mister Rogers guide the way. It might not be one of his better-known quotes, but it’s particularly relevant in times such as these:
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”