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Colorado Dept. of Education drafts guidelines to prepare for next school year amid COVID-19

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Department of Education has released initial draft guidelines for the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials want feedback before establishing a final plan before the end of summer break.

The main guidelines for preparation can be found at this link, and it's split into tips for educators and students' family members.

Most districts in Colorado Springs have started overlooking the guidelines and figuring out how they'll fit with their schools.

District 11 Public Information Officer Devra Ashby said today, officials are looking at three models for their upcoming school year.

"Staying with totally online distant learning, a hybrid of at home and in the school and welcoming all back and somehow social distancing," she explained.

The guidelines outline several measurements schools can take to allow students back inside their buildings, but not the way they did before COVID-19.

Some suggestions from the Colorado Department of Education are:

  • Keeping students in their classrooms all day, and having teachers switch during periods to avoid large crowds moving through the buidling
  • Staggering some class schedules, allowing for some students to be at school while others are at home
  • Giving teachers the option to start their lessons where they left off in the 2019-2020 school year allowing students to catch up.

Mentioned in the guidelines is that parents are urged to communicate with their students' teachers regularly and school districts should consider live chats over the summer for parents to ask questions and share ideas for the next school year.

The state's website for planning the next school year also has a focus on learning conditions and preparing students for the possibilities of different scenarios -- including remote learning or physically distanced classrooms -- depending on public health orders.

David Nancarrow, Director of Communications at District 49 says school officials are still planning their next steps, and are waiting to hear back from parents.

"We care about the voice of our families in our community and we will be giving an opportunity to provide some of that feedback before all is said and done," he explained.

Meanwhile District 11 says they've already got feedback from parents after they conducted their own survey.

Ashby says, "The K through 5 levels in our elementary schools were challenged with online work but families were also challenged with that work as well."

It is one of the reasons Ashby says the district is considering prioritizing keeping lower grade levels in the school buildings, rather than at home.

Other districts like D3, D8 and D20 said they are in the early stages of looking into the guidelines and anticipate releasing their plan before the start of the school year.

Educators, school staffers, and families are encouraged to read through the guidelines and provide feedback to the state at this link here.

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Andrew McMillan

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