Englewood Schools, based on guidance from Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Education and local health authorities, is launching a task force made up of district administrators, teachers and principals to come up with frameworks that will guide decisions surrounding the return to school in August amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The task force will meet regularly in the month of June into early July. With input from various advisory groups made up of the greater community, the task force anticipates releasing the final plan on July 15. The district is currently seeking task force participants representing families, students and staff members.
In May, the district surveyed the community to gauge the comfort levels of parents and teachers returning to school in the fall. At that time, about 30% of the community indicated they prefer to continue with remote learning at home and 70% indicated they prefer in-person learning at school. Given the constantly shifting guidelines and data surrounding COVID-19, the district anticipates surveying the community one more time over the summer before a final plan is released.
The task force’s initial planning will be to offer both in-person and remote options to families so that families who prefer to keep students home or who need to for health reasons can do so. This will also allow teachers who are high-risk for complications from COVID-19 to teach from home.
“Remote learning in the fall will look different than remote learning this spring,” said Joanna Polzin, Chief Academic Officer for Englewood Schools. “We are proud of the work we did this spring, and survey results from students and parents show that we were largely successful with remote learning,” she said. “However, having more time to plan coupled with the experience of having already done remote learning, we are able to make changes that will be beneficial to both students and teachers.” One of those changes will be more live teaching time and student-teacher interaction, she said.
The task force will also come up with frameworks that will make a return to in-person learning as safe as possible for those who would like to; as long as Governor Jared Polis and local health agencies continue to give the green light for in-person learning.
The task force’s aim will be to find a way to safely educate students and provide for their social-emotional, nutritional and academic needs. Plans will need to be flexible and to allow for the ability to be agile in case in-person learning needs to move to remote learning temporarily or if guidelines change.
“Our first priority is the health and safety of our students and staff members,” said Wendy Rubin, Superintendent of Englewood Schools. “Additionally, as a school district, we provide many services to our students and our community. Our plan will be to safely provide academic instruction, social-emotional support, childcare and food and nutrition services to our students whether they choose to come to school or to learn at home remotely.”
Rubin said she anticipates asking parents to make a decision about remote versus in-person learning by August 1, 2020. The safety plans and procedures for in-person learning will be released by the task force in mid-July.