Greetings Englewood Schools’ Families and Community,
As we complete our 9th week in school, I want to say thank you to all of our students, staff and families who have partnered with us on our return to learning this fall. Whether in-person or online, teachers are teaching, students are learning, and we continue to move forward while navigating complex and sometimes competing guidance and health information. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged health experts, governmental and business leaders, educational leaders, and every segment of society. This is not limited to Colorado or the United States - these challenges are global.
We, however, need to focus on our local response. As a community, we are accountable to ourselves and one another when it comes to being able to approximate some normalcy in our lives. This is especially important when it comes to being able to offer an in-person educational experience for our students and families who choose that option.
Along with other school districts in Arapahoe County, we took significant action and provided assurances with regard to data monitoring that allowed for the school year to start in-person in August. Since Labor Day, however, we have not managed the virus well. The data have continued to trend in the wrong direction for many weeks. This week, new cases and transmission rates are higher than we have ever experienced.
Based on first quarter data from our district and our surrounding districts, we are confident that there is minimal spread of COVID in our schools. In Englewood specifically, there has been no evidence of spread within the schools. The safety strategies we have implemented to keep kids and staff safe in our schools are working. That however, will not be enough to keep us open to in-person learning if the significant amount of virus spread in our community is not contained quickly and definitively.
This week, Tri-County Health Department and superintendents from our surrounding districts met to discuss what has unfortunately become a trend with regard to increasing case numbers in Arapahoe County. While our current data metrics support continuing with in-person learning for the time being, we anticipate having to re-evaluate that position if the numbers do not begin to improve by October 23rd.
We were fortunate to start school in August and to have had the opportunity to provide in-person learning for more than 65% of our students. I believe that through collective community action we will be able to continue to offer that option. But, to be clear, it will require action at a community level. Our schools have been able to successfully limit or avoid transmissions during in-person learning. This will not be enough to keep us open, however, if the community-wide numbers in Arapahoe County do not begin to show improvement immediately. I, along with my colleagues in Cherry Creek, Littleton and Sheridan schools, strongly urge everyone in our community to follow public health guidelines by wearing a mask in public places, avoiding large gatherings and maintaining physical distancing from people outside of your household. We must work together as a community, in spirit and practice, to get back on track.
Wendy Rubin, Ed. D.