As the first day of school in August grows near, the Buena Vista school district’s plan to bring students back to school as normally as possible grows more concrete in its details.
District superintendent Lisa Yates shared Monday a multi-tiered decision tree outlining how the district would react to a changing COVID-19 situation this fall while striving towards the goal of having “Every Student, Every Day” physically present in class.
Under the decision tree, developed by the district with consultation from Chaffee County Public Health, if there are no cases of COVID-19 in the schools, if the 2-week average of test positives remains stable, local hospital capacity is stable and the capacity to test and trace is adequate, school will be in session, in person.
With the first positive case in the schools, a county response team will be brought in to determine whether in-person class should continue, or if students should move to “remote competency learning” for a period of up to 3 days.
If 30% or more of the student body is absent from school for 3 days in a row, the district will move to remote competency learning for up to 3 days while the school facilities are cleaned and the situation is assessed.
The county response team, consisting of Chaffee County Public Health, medical staff and district leaders, will determine if the situation rises to the point that the district should move from the “No to Mild Spread” tier to “Moderate Spread,” in which half of students would be able to attend school at a time to promote social distancing.
“(for preschool- 5th Grade) All students in school with increased distancing and protective measures in place OR 50% students in school in morning; 50% in school in afternoon. Only core subjects at K-5. Some students able to stay all day and have interventions/childcare for second half of day,” reads the district response for the moderate spread tier. “(Grades) 6-12: 50% students in school in morning; 50% in school in afternoon. Students attend four classes per day. Establish mindset student in school all day, just half is at home. All students log in.”
The most severe response tier, “Substantial Spread,” is triggered by an executive order from the state, and would involve moving the entire student body fully to remote learning, closing the schools to in-person instruction.
This tier would effectively represent a return to the conditions Colorado saw in the spring, when Gov. Jared Polis ordered schools to suspend in-person instruction and the school district closed out the last few weeks of the 2019-2020 school year through online-based classes.
“Spring health conditions required an emergency response. In contrast, this school year’s process of teaching and learning will be based on high levels of engagement, competency and connection,” Yates said in a letter to district families announcing the plan. “While we will need to remain flexible during disrupted times, we are ready to do so. It will take students, families, and staff working together with grace and commitment for us to be successful. In BV, we do these hard things together!”
Yates said, “We understand by communicating this plan it will likely generate more questions than assurances. To that end, our scheduled weekly meetings (5-5:45 p.m., via Zoom) and written updates each Monday are in place to provide two-way communication with our families. We will also be providing video updates from the district and building leaders on July 13 with additional details of the plans.”