St. Vrain Valley students will have the option to return to school in person two days a week starting Oct. 5 under a hybrid learning model announced at a virtual town hall on Monday.
The meeting was led by Superintendent Don Haddad and included Boulder County health officials, a representative from the St. Vrain Valley Education Association and school district officials.
“There will be no scenario where I decide to move students without the support of Boulder County and Weld County Health Services,” Haddad said.
Parents can expect a letter from the district outlining details of the hybrid model on Tuesday or Wednesday, while principals will send out a school-specific welcome video in the coming days that covers safety procedures and other changes. . Kindergarten, sixth and ninth graders will have the opportunity to participate in a half-day school orientation program on October 2.
For the hybrid, K-8 students will be split into two groups, with one group participating in person on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other group participating in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Secondary students, also divided into two groups, will be present in person on Mondays and Tuesdays or Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Every other day, students will attend live classes remotely. Fridays will be a day for students to complete homework, ask questions during office hours, and, for some students who need extra help, meet in person with a teacher.
Preschool, where class sizes are already small, will follow a regular schedule. Students receiving special education services may attend in person four days a week.
Safety measures include requiring masks indoors – with breaks during the day – for all grade levels, social distancing, no large group gatherings, increased cleaning at night and during the day, upgrades to HVAC systems and free testing provided to staff members through October and beyond” if needed.”
“We’ve worked very hard and pushed our system hard to create safer environments,” Haddad said.
Families who are not comfortable with their students returning in person can still register for the district’s online school, St. Vrain launched the Virtual Academy. About 2,800 students have enrolled in LaunchED so far, Haddad said.
School district officials announced earlier this month that they plan to move to a hybrid of in-person and online learning in October if supported by local health data.
While the University of Colorado Boulder is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director Jeff Zayach said, that hasn’t led to broad community transmission. To try to stem the outbreak, all CU Boulder classes will be fully online for at least two weeks starting Wednesday, the university announced Monday.
Boulder County Health is looking at five primary benchmarks — using data from Boulder County, Broomfield County, and Weld County — to determine whether to recommend in-person, blended, or remote learning.
The first three benchmarks are the 14-day case rate per 100,000 people over two weeks, the two-week trend in case rates and the percentage positive for tests.
The 14-day case rate is in the “red” for Boulder County, with 373 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks — but that’s “driven by CU cases,” Zayach said. Boulder County is also in the “red” due to the upward trend in cases, while the percentage of positivity for tests remains below the desired 5%.
The other two benchmarks are the trend in case rates for 5- to 19-year-olds for two weeks and the health department being able to contact those with probable cases – and their close contacts – within 24 hours.
Although there has been an increase in the number of cases among 18 to 22-year-olds, Zayach said, there has not been a spike in cases among school-aged children. The county, with state assistance, has the resources for contact tracing, he said. Another factor is the hospitalization rate, which remains low in all three counties.
“I’m comfortable with a hybrid approach at this point,” Zayach said.
St. Vrain asked people to submit questions ahead of the meeting, receiving comments and questions from nearly 300 people on Friday.
The questions show the polarization among parents, with some passionately advocating that schools remain closed and others saying they must reopen full-time in person.
Along with the surge in cases, shared concerns about in-person return under a hybrid model include the likelihood of quarantines disrupting learning, the risk of teachers and other staff contracting the virus, and a lack knowledge about the long-term health of the virus. effects.
“I wish evidence-based research would show that online learning would have such a large and detrimental impact on the lives of our students that it would outweigh the cost of a teacher’s life,” someone wrote. ‘one in a subject question. “Is there that evidence and what is the school district’s cost-benefit to teachers’ lives?” Because the country’s teachers are dying.
Others called on the district to prioritize student mental health and physical safety when bringing students back in person, pointing to research showing higher rates of suicide and child abuse. Distance learning is also not working well for some students, who are falling behind academically, parents said.
“My fourth grader is suffering from Zoom fatigue, my seventh grader can’t concentrate, and my ninth grader has such anxiety right now that it’s making him physically sick,” wrote a parent who works in a submitted question. “How long do we think is a viable option for kids to learn anything this year?”
While no timeline was given, Haddad said the goal remains to return to full in-person learning “as soon as it becomes appropriate to do so.”
“We will continue to work and solve problems together,” he said.