Bayfield students in grades six to 12 will go to school two days a week and will receive remote, online learning three days a week under a plan unanimously approved Tuesday by the school board.
Despite months of planning, Bayfield School District Superintendent Kevin Aten said the plan couldn’t foresee every possibility of reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said the plan would have to be changed, perhaps substantially as the epidemiological situation changes and as more is learned about the novel coronavirus.
“All of this is subject to change based on circumstance, and that drives all of us planners crazy, but this is our best thinking as of today, Aug. 11, 2020,” Aten said.
Besides the mixed in-person and remote-learning plan, secondary students, those in sixth to 12th grade, will also have an option to do all-remote learning online through Colorado Digital Learning Solutions.
CDLS is the state-supported online program aimed at providing all the state’s districts, charter schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Service schools with a high-quality online option based on Colorado educational standards.
The general division of cohorts for secondary students will be students with a last name from A to L attending in-person classes Mondays and Tuesdays and students with a last name from M to Z attending in-person classes Thursdays and Fridays.
Remote learning, principally online, would occur the remaining days of the week when students are not in classrooms.
A CDLS option will also be provided to families who want their elementary-age students to receive an online-only option.
The main option for elementary-age students – in-person learning five days a week – did not change from previous plans in the 2020-21 Opening of Schools Plan adopted Tuesday.
In all grades, Bayfield has adopted a cohort model, with students spending the day with the same students to minimize the number of personal contacts.
In elementary school, lunches will be delivered to each classroom. The middle school will have three lunch sections, and the high school will have two lunch sections.
Second grade teacher Aaron Wamsley said the Opening of Schools Plan did not detail what would happen if a student or staff member of a school tested positive for COVID-19, and that should have been included in the plan.
In the case of a positive COVID-19 test, Aten said the general procedure would be for anyone, student or staff member, to self-quarantine for 14 days – the standard recommendation of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
But he said the number of variables that could be envisioned are so numerous that any specifics detailed in a plan would be inadequate to cover the possibilities.
The No. 1 goal he said is to keep anyone who is sick out of schools.
“We’re going through all this planning to be as preventive as possible,” he said. “The key, the No. 1 thing, is you can’t come to school if you’re sick. I ask parents to ensure their children are healthy and ready to go when they come to school. These are not the days of my dad, when he would say, ‘Put some dirt on it and go to school.’ We can’t have that.”
Aten said if someone who is sick and tested positive came to school it would require the self-quarantine of the entire cohort of students who were exposed. It’s a worst-case scenario, and the chances of it happening could be greatly reduced if everyone who feels sick stays home.
School board President Mike Foutz said he is pleased students will soon be back in school.
“It’s hard to recover when kids aren’t in school,” he said. “It’s amazing the impact teachers have on students, but they can’t have that if students are not in school.”