Park County School District RE-2 administrators announced plans and fielded questions July 21 pertaining to the return of students for the 2020-21 academic school year. Administrators were assembled at the district’s multi-use room in Fairplay while communicating virtually with stakeholders via Zoom.

Students district-wide are scheduled to return to their respective campuses Aug. 25, but a nagging cloud of uncertainty still looms amid ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Even so, PCSD RE-2 Superintendent Cindy Bear and other administrators described a detailed, multi-layered plan to accommodate students whether they opt for on-campus learning, distance learning, or a combination of both.

The plan also features flexibility to accommodate several levels of state-mandated restrictions, should they exist during the school year.

The primary message conveyed to stakeholders was that they would have the opportunity to state their preferences through an online survey, and that each family would ultimately decide the best course of action for their students.

The secondary message was that the district would take a case-by-case approach, if necessary, to meet the needs of individual students and cater to the needs and preferences of their families.

“COVID-19 has impacted all of us differently, and we have all had varying experiences,” said Cindy Bear, district superintendent. “There is no way that we could create a plan that feels right to everyone, so our primary goal is to give you options as parents.”

Regardless of the district’s willingness to offer options and to tailor individual plans to meet the needs of students, Bear recognizes that public school districts throughout the state are entirely dependent upon the prevalence of the coronavirus, the level of restrictions imposed by state health officials, and specific guidelines set forth by the Colorado Department of Education.

In other words, the flexibility and wealth of options offered  by the district only extend as far as state-mandated restrictions and guidelines allow.

Three specific sets of plans were revealed by administrators, each slightly different, and each designed specifically for students according to grade levels. The plans shared a common thread, however, as all three were designed to accommodate varying levels of restrictions that might occur as a result of ongoing health concerns.

The plans designated Level 1 as the least restrictive model, Plan 2 as more restrictive and Level 3 as still more restrictive. Level 4 represents the most restrictive model, whereby students would be relegated exclusively to distance learning. The range of levels resemble various degrees of restrictions recently imposed by the state.

“The levels in our plan are not exactly the same, but similar to those declared by the state,” Bear explained. “Level 3 is similar to stay at home orders, Level 2 is similar to safer at home, and Level 1 is similar to Protect your neighbors.”

Bear stated that Level 1 status did not look as probable as it did just a couple of weeks ago, and noted the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic and its impact.

“What we thought we could do a month ago is very different than today,” Bear said. “The [district] board approved our plan, then, yesterday, the State Board of Health released more guidelines. So then we checked our plan against those guidelines, and will continue to make adjustments and do what ever we need to do.”

Bear reiterated that the district planned to utilize stakeholders’ surveys to begin a meaningful dialogue and to consult with families both collectively and individually regarding the best learning model for their students.

“We will literally have personal contact or meetings with every family if necessary,” Bear asserted.

The Return to School Plan can be reviewed in its entirety at parkcountyre2.org. The deadline for survey entries is July 31.

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