April 16, 2020
As you are aware, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced that he has suspended in-person learning in Colorado’s schools through April 30, revising the original order that had been set to expire on April 17. During his announcement, Governor Polis reiterated that it remains unlikely that schools will return to in-person learning this school year and said that districts are allowed to lengthen their own suspension past the April 30 deadline.
Over the past several weeks, we have spoken regularly and often to public health officials and state officials to better understand the timeline and path forward for the year, both with regard to COVID-19 and “traditional” school year expectations. We understand that there are no specific answers to exactly how and when we return to “life as normal” during this unprecedented health crisis. Given that, we must rely upon our best judgement and place safety above all else.
What is clear is that there will not be definitive, universal guidance to proceed as normal. Rather, there will be a gradual lifting of restrictions and a step-by-step return to normalcy. What we do know is that once the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted, we will continue to have restrictions on social distancing and the size of group gatherings for at least several weeks, if not months. Given the nature of a school environment (classrooms, passing periods, buses, playgrounds, etc.), these restrictions are not practical within the school setting. As such, there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.
Collectively we believe, and are making the decision, that is in the best interest of the children, staff, and the communities that we serve, our school will remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Many models currently show that the impact of COVID-19 is likely to peak in the last week of April. We have seen consistently that those numbers change weekly and sometimes daily. Even once COVID-19 reaches its peak in Colorado, we know that there will be an equivalent amount of time after the peak in which the virus continues to pose a significant threat. The continued safety and public health risk this presents for our students, staff, families, and communities moves us to take the step of extended closure to in-person learning through the balance of the school year.
Additionally, providing a concrete direction now with regard to in-person learning for the duration of the school year allows us to focus our energy and attention to addressing questions and concerns, rather than ongoing uncertainty. It will also allow us, as school district leaders, to shift to a proactive stance in that we can begin to plan for completing the current year remotely, and returning to school in August when we are able to joyfully welcome our students, staff and families back into our buildings.
Making this decision was extremely difficult. We do believe, however, that this is the right decision given all of the information that we have received from health experts and state officials. Our team has been hard at work developing quality remote learning opportunities for our students. Please know that the health and safety of our students, staff and families is paramount. We believe that finishing this school year through remote learning is one of the most effective ways in which we can do our part to avoid exposing anyone to unnecessary risk.
As we continue our alternative learning for the remainder of the year, please continue to have students turn in assignments to allow for feedback from the staff. Please watch emails and schoology for updates on assignments to finish out the school year. We will also be working on a plan for the return of school property such as chromebooks, library books, supplies, ect, as well as picking up any personal items that may still be in lockers or classrooms. Please note this may be after our last day of school which is May 8, 2020. We will continue to follow state and federal guidelines through this process.
Thank you all for your understanding and quick response to this unfortunate ending to the 19-20 school year.
Peetz School District