On Wednesday, March 18, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state of Colorado thru April 17.
Polis also made a grim prediction: it’s “increasingly unlikely” that schools in Colorado that have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic will reopen this school year.
As a response to the school closures, Polis also announced that state-mandated testing, such as CMAS and PARCC exams, are being canceled for this school year, while the state is working with PSAT and SAT testing companies to determine how, and when, these exams will be administered for students.
While Polis’s decisive move closed school buildings, it didn’t bring an end to education in Colorado this school year. His executive order also requires schools to "make every effort" to provide alternative instruction to the state's K-12 students.
As a result of Polis’s mandates, schools throughout the state, including local school districts such as Trinidad, Primero, Aguilar, and Hoehne, are now being tasked with the unprecedented task of devising a plan to meet the educational needs of area students for what might potentially be the remainder of the school year, all while students and teachers are barred from their campuses.
A factor that makes this task even more difficult is that the global Covid19 pandemic rapidly escalated at a time when many area schools were gearing up for Spring Break or already on vacation for the week, meaning many administrators, teachers, and students had little time to prepare for an eventuality such as the mandated shut-down of school buildings.
A similar situation has impacted the Raton public schools, following an executive order on March 12 from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham closing all schools within the state for at least three weeks.
In the days since these executive orders, staff at school districts throughout the region have been working to devise new ways of delivering instruction and vital services, such as meals, to the students they serve. Below are the most current plans of action for school districts throughout the region; these will be updated as plans continue to evolve.
Trinidad School District
The staff at the Trinidad public schools are working to devise a plan to meet the educational needs of their students; as this plan is finalized, more information will be released.
Children ages 0-18 have the option to pick up free grab and go meals at the curbs of Fisher’s Peak Elementary or Trinidad Middle School (Park Street) March 23-26 and March 30-31 from 11:00-1:00.
Primero School District
Primero students in grades 4-12 will be transitioning to online instruction, led by district teachers, starting on March 23. Students will follow a modified late-start bell schedule, and will utilize platforms such as Google Classroom and Meet to continue to receive instruction from their regular teachers.
The district would also like to keep students in grades K-3 occupied and keep their learning as uninterrupted as possible. Toward this end, a daily schedule has been posted for parents on the school website at www.primeroschool.org along with links to help keep younger students engaged. Parents who have any trouble logging in are asked to please contact their students teacher via email or text.
Primero school will serve lunches for students Monday through Thursday. The lunches will be delivered to the following sites from 12 noon to 12:30 or until everyone has been served: the Cokedale bus stop for out of district students, the Sarcillo fire station, the Wet Canyon fire station, Picketwire, and the Primero school cafeteria door. Parents or guardians should bring students with them to receive the lunches so that students can be counted; everyone should remain in their vehicles to assure distancing, and lunches will be brought to vehicles.
“I don’t think we at Primero were ‘ready,’ as few could have predicted the extent of the virus’s impact on our society, but I believe our actions and communication efforts leading up to mid-March allowed us to approach this event with greater flexibility and preparedness than others may have experienced,” said Principal Blake Byall. “The 6-12 distance learning platform and connectivity to students will pay dividends. Most of the staff is experienced enough to put into place a functional instructional setting that will not leave our students hanging. We have secured WiFi support for our most remote students, and will make sure they can access our system.”
“K-3 teachers have also been coordinating efforts to create a feasible daily school schedule that will keep our younger students engaged and ready to come back to classes as soon as that is possible. Our 4-5 classrooms will be attempting to deliver ‘live’ instruction as well, following a 6 hour per day schedule,” Byall said.
“Keeping our students and families safe and secure while providing what we can for daily meals, are our highest priorities. We will meet those with great success. Continued educational support will not take a backseat toour fears and worries during this time of crisis. Our community is strong, and our commitment to our scholastic family is unwavering.”
Aguilar School District
For the week of March 18, each teacher at the Aguilar school district created packets with lessons for each student. Students were allowed into the building on March 19 to get personal items from lockers and to pick up the learning packets.
Because the week of March 23 is Spring Break, Aguilar is in the planning stages for meal delivery. “We will continue to provide instruction with packets, websites, and other formats as needed until this is over,” said Principal Elizabeth Jameson.
Hoehne School District
Hoehne’s public schools are working to devise a plan to meet the educational needs of their students; as this plan is finalized, more information will be released.
Raton School District
Raton public school staff is working during the week of March 23 to devise a plan to meet the educational needs of their students; once this plan is finalized, more information will be released.
Starting the week of March 23, the Raton Public Schools will be providing grab-and-go meals at each school site from 12-1 p.m. Monday thru Friday. The distribution sites are Raton High School, Raton Intermediate School, and Longfellow Elementary School. Students must be present at the distribution sites to receive a meal; adults may not pick up the meals for others.