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Widefield schools post in-person school plans

 

Last updated 7/23/2020 at 11:26am

Widefield School District 3 formally announced its plans to return to school on Aug. 17 as "close to normal" as possible. Masks and social distancing are part of the modified protocols, but officials hope to maintain the usual assortment of activities and classes whenever feasible.

The only caveat is that the situation might change suddenly, pending circumstances at the county or state level, that might cause the district to move to either a hybrid model or a full distance learning model.

While the goal is to conduct school in person, five days a week, a change to hybrid would mean a combination of in-person classes and distance learning at home; a full distance learning model would involve only school at home, similar to the final weeks of the spring term.

Superintendent Scott Campbell, in a letter to district families last week, noted the district will be ready to "pivot" if conditions change. He also indicated a more finalized version of the plans would be released the first week of August "when we are closer to the start of the school year and have the most up-to-date safety and health guidance to make an informed decision."

Campbell said families who are not comfortable going back to school in person may choose to participate in an online education program called D3 My Way. This is not the same as a possible distance learning option if schools shut down, and it also does not include all of the learning supports in place at schools.

Campbell said the district used survey responses from families to develop the plan. Some comments by individuals resulted in the following "frequently asked questions" section:

1. Can my student choose from the three models (modified, hybrid or distance learning)?

No. All staff and students will start with the modified in person learning model. The other two models will only be used if advised by local and state health officials.

2. Will students and staff be required to wear facial coverings or masks?

Yes, we want to keep students in school and research shows that wearing face coverings or masks reduces disease transmission.

1. Staff and students in grades 3-12 will be required to wear facial coverings or masks.

2. Preschool and K-2 students will be required to wear facial coverings or masks when:

1. Riding the school bus

2. Entering and leaving the building

3. Outside the classroom in hallways or common areas

3. Preschool and K-2 students are strongly encouraged to wear facial coverings or masks to the greatest extent possible while in proximity to other people

4. Parents, please help your child get accustomed to wearing masks by:

Be Positive: Explain that masks are worn to keep everyone safe.

Teach your child how to put the mask on and off.

Start with 30 minutes increments of wearing the mask prior to the beginning of school.

3. Will temperatures checks be required for students and staff?

While temperature checks or health screenings will not be required for students or staff at school, we expect parents to check their child before they send them off to school in the morning. The same will be required of employees.

4. How will you maintain social distancing?

Every attempt will be made to spread desks apart and keep learning areas at a safe distance. Students will use their own school supplies. Any shared supplies in the classroom will be cleaned between each child's use. Each school will have its own set of guidelines for separating hallway traffic, keeping smaller groups together, and scheduling cleaning time between classes using common areas. The guidelines for each building will be published prior to the start of school.

5. Will there be school bus transportation?

Current regulations reduce the number of riders on the school bus. We may need parents to transport students if they are able. Students will have assigned seats and family members will share seats. More information will be coming soon as we finalize our plans and will be posted under Transportation on our Fall Plans webpage.

6. Will students get recess?

Yes. Elementary students will have brain breaks throughout the day in class in addition to outdoor recess.

7. Will students have P.E. and other specials?

Yes. Specials, including P.E., will be part of the normal school day. Students will adhere to social distancing guidelines. Schools will have specific plans to fit their building needs.

8. Where will students eat meals?

Students will eat in classrooms, cafeterias, outside or other locations where social distancing can be practiced. Schools will have specific plans to fit their building needs.

Other questions may be addressed on the Fall Plans page at WSD3.org.

Parent concerns

Although many questions have been answered, some parents remain anxious about the possibility of schools closing again.

"Not one word has been said about what working parents are supposed to do if the school closes or shifts to distance learning," said Jenn Costa, who has an elementary-aged child. "Even if only one or two days a week, it is not realistic. I feel like I am being made to choose between surviving or my son's education. I feel guilty for having to work, which I most certainly should not be made to feel. Or am I supposed to start his school work when I get home at 6 p.m.?"

She's also unconvinced that the protocols for in-person school will be go over well with children.

"I am just horrified with what these poor kids are going to experience at school," she said. "The masks, the social distancing... kids are already mean to each other. And some kids don't even have food or clean clothes, let alone endless masks."

Campbell said he understands the frustration of parents, staff and students, but that some of the factors are out of the district's control.

"Our No. 1 concern has been and will always be the safety, health and wellness of our staff and students," Campbell said. "We are equally wrestling with the constant changes in guidance and recommendations for the state and local health officials. The reality is we do not control this virus and as a result we cannot control when the scientific findings come out from El Paso County Public Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Centers for Disease Control. These are the factors which result in ever-changing guidance to ensure the health and safety of students and staff in schools. Attempting to balance those factors with the inevitability that parents need to work is nearly an impossible task. Unfortunately the path of this virus is not cognizant of all of the factors that enter into all of our daily lives. We will do our best to keep our district community informed with the most up-to-date information."

District officials hope to get more parent feedback from a new survey that will close this Friday. A link to the survey is on the main page of http://www.wsd3.org.

An additional survey of staff was scheduled for this Wednesday.

 

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