Area schools remain closed for 2019-2020
Last updated 4/22/2020 at 12:19pm
Both Fountain-Fort Carson and Widefield school districts announced Monday that their schools would continue distance learning through the end of the 2019-20 school year in light of the lingering coronavirus shutdowns. Their announcement was followed by word from Gov. Jared Polis that all state schools would remain closed to in-person learning.
"Considering guidance from the governor that normal, in-person learning is 'highly unlikely' as well as looking at our traditional school year-end dates, we cannot say for sure that we'll be able to offer any substantial in-person instruction this school year," Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 Superintendent Dr. Keith Owen said in a letter to students and families. "Rather than prolong that uncertainty, we have decided to extend the school closures similar to our neighbor districts, and continue Remote Learning through the remainder of the traditional school year. We will continue teaching, learning and assessing during this time to provide students with valuable learning experiences to build on their foundation for next year."
This means that FFC8 will continue Remote Learning through May 20, two days prior to the originally scheduled last day for students, and through May 15 for seniors, which was their original last day.
Owen said the district will follow CHSAA guidance regarding activities.
"However, facility use for community organizations and athletic partners will be canceled for the remainder of the year and playgrounds will not be available until further notice," he said.
(See article on p. 15 regarding statewide cancellation of spring high school sports.)
Widefield School District 3 Superintendent Scott Campbell said his district, with the support of the Board of Education, came to the same conclusion.
"We believe this is in the best interest for our students, staff, and community," Campbell said.
This means WSD3 will continue distance learning through May 15, and through May 11 for seniors, (which was their original last day). All CHSAA sanctioned athletic events and activities are suspended pending further notice, and facilities, fields, and playgrounds will not be available until further notice.
"It is essential during this time that our entire community continue to follow the Stay-at-Home orders put in place by the Governor and observe proper social distancing behaviors," Campbell said. "All of us must work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19."
Owen said FFC8 officials "will continue to follow the guidance of our local health experts, government officials and the CDC as we make decisions with thoughtful consideration to finish the year strong in support of our students and staff."
In the meantime, other FFC8 services are as follows:
Meal distribution is exempt from the Stay-at-Home order. FFC8 and all area school districts will continue to provide grab-and-go meals for students who are in need of food assistance Monday – Friday through the remainder of the school year. In FFC8, meals will continue to be distributed between 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Carson Middle, Mountainside Elementary, Aragon Elementary and Mesa Elementary schools. The locations and times for meals at schools across the community will continue to be updated in real-time at this link: https://tinyurl.com/School-Meals
Traditionally, there would have been a break in meal service between the school year and the Summer Feeding program aligned with Summer School. The district intends to continue to provide meals this year with no break in service and will communicate the details with families as soon as possible.
One of the most critical implications of this decision is that there will not be in-person graduation ceremonies in May. FFC8 has been working with both high schools on ways to honor seniors and implement ceremonies, events, and/or celebrations that will fit their communities. FFCHS and Welte administration will communicate with their families on specific plans for seniors.
Building Access for Students and Staff
During this extended closure, FFC8 buildings are closed to students and staff, with the exception of a limited number of permitted, essential employees.
"We are developing plans to give staff and students the opportunity to retrieve belongings and materials from our school buildings during the week of May 18," Owen said. "We will communicate those plans as soon as they are finalized. We expect that schools will maintain the office hours that have already been communicated to families."
Summer School (Summer Learning Institute)
As of now, FFC8 is planning to offer a version of summer school in a Remote Learning format.
"We know some of our students and families need this extended support, and that need could be even higher after the way this year has concluded," Owen said. "We will communicate more directly with employees as plans are finalized for this year's program."
Staff Return to Work Plan
There is no change at this time to the status of staff working. They will continue operating under current schedules – shorter days that are conducted mostly remotely with few exceptions for paperwork, technology, and mission essential staff – through the remainder of the traditional school year. Leaders are currently working on plans for the timing and return to work for all staff, either to retrieve essential items or for year-long employees to be able to reintegrate back into a conventional schedule.
"I know extending remote learning through the end of the school year brings many questions, and also many emotions," Owen said. "We will continue to communicate with you often, and provide updates as information is available."
High school staff and administration have been working to create and implement a variety of ways to honor seniors this spring. As soon as those plans are finalized, students and families will be notified.
WSD3 will continue to provide grab-and-go meals for students who are in need of food assistance Monday – Friday through Monday, May 18. Meals are served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the following sites:
Janitell Junior High, 7635 Fountain Mesa Road.
Sproul Junior High, 235 Sumac Drive,
Watson Junior High, 136 Fontaine Blvd.
Building Access for Students and Staff
Colorado currently has a stay-at-home order in effect through April 26. During that time, WSD3 buildings are closed to all students and staff, with the exception of permitted necessary employees. The district will update families and employees later this month with more information about building access procedures to pick up belongings prior to summer vacation.
"Thank you once again for your support and partnership as we work to continue making decisions in the best interest of our students, staff, and families," Campbell said.