As the state of Colorado has upped restrictions on public gatherings, the possibility of remote K-12 schooling is becoming an increasing reality.
And local schools are scrambling to figure out how to provide services and instruction from afar amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered that all schools be closed through April 17, and local administrators are preparing for more extended closures.
“We are in the planning process for how we will offer ongoing online school and learning opportunities to our students (as well as meals and other supports),” said Lori Haukeness, superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1, in a letter to families. “This also means that all sports and extracurricular activities (including prom) are postponed until further notice.”
School districts have been preparing for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Widespread cancellations began last week with the Colorado High School Activities Association’s announcement that all activities and sports were postponed through at least April 6.
A stream of new updates followed. All three Montezuma County school districts and Pueblo Community College Southwest lengthened spring break by a week, CHSAA extended its activities ban through April 18, and then on Wednesday, Polis ordered that all public and private schools in Colorado be closed through April 17.
Specifically, the order suspends in-person learning at all schools and directs the commissioner of education to issue guidance to support school systems in developing “alternative learning” plans and figuring out how to provide free and reduced lunch and breakfast to students.
“Children can serve as a vector for the disease, increasing the risk of disease to older adults and individuals with certain underlying conditions, who are more likely to experience severe symptoms and even death,” the order states.
Districts are now figuring out how to bring online learning to families, especially to those without access to technology.
Lis Richard, superintendent of the Dolores School District Re-4A, said the district is working to move to an online platform for classes and figuring out how to bring the necessary technology to families without it, which may include computers and Wi-Fi hot spots.
“The leadership team will meet Monday morning to finalize plans,” Richard said in a letter to parents. “We will also host a virtual meeting with all staff on Tuesday. After both meetings, detailed communication will follow to all stakeholders.”
Re-1 ventured into the virtual realm for the district’s March 17 school board meeting. About 100 community members tuned in via Zoom, a video conferencing software that allowed for viewers to share thoughts and comments by typing into the meeting.
Montezuma County officials are working with school districts on providing food to students who rely on the school lunch and breakfast program.
Schools are posting updates on a daily basis. For more information, visit the websites for the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1, Dolores School District Re-4A, Mancos School District Re-6, and Pueblo Community College Southwest.