On Tuesday, March 17, the Trinidad School District No. 1 (TSD1) met for a special Board of Education meeting to discuss concerns and actions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. After a mandated closure from Governor Polis, all districts, including TSD1, will be closed until April 16.
School nurses stated that the biggest thing to point out is being prepared before this becomes an issue and that they start at the beginning of the school year with deep cleaning and disinfecting. They also explained they’d be increasing the fogging throughout the building.
Additionally, janitors took it upon themselves to look into more that they could do and before spring break, they passed out spray bottles with disinfectant to all the teachers to use on their desks and surfaces.
Also discussed at the meeting was the potential delays this could cause for the renovation of the middle school.
“With the Corona virus, who knows what’s going to happen,” said TSD1 Faciltiy Manager Jeff Ruybal. “If we go into June for school with this delay, that’s going to probably delay the project.”
Also of concern was the inability of the district to agree on a plan as to where junior high students would go while renovation construction was taking place. Ruybal, who was tasked with creating a plan in cooperation with the middle school and high school principles stated they had decided to move sixth, seventh, and eighth grades to the high school until Thanksgiving, at which time construction would likely be done enough to move back to Park Street.
“I wanted to see what your recommendations were because that plan I guess isn’t going to fit for everybody,” said Ruybal.
While moving to Eckhart was an idea brought forward, staff stated this would pose a problem for sports, as more busses would be needed to transport kids back and forth from the high school.
“We spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure stuff out,” said Ruybal. “If that plan gets derailed then we’re going to start over and it’s not fair to all of our time trying to think of plans. It’s no different than snow days, if you call school off in the morning it disrupts everybody’s schedule whereas if you let them know at night, everybody knows what they’re doing.”
Chief Financial Officer Mitch Nutterfield said with construction on an existing facility, there is no way to get around every single inconvenience to students, staff, and parents.
“We’re renovating an old building and we’re shuffling people around so somebody is going to have some inconveniences,” said Nutterfield. “That’s just the way it’s going to be. I don’t know how you’re going to get around changing nothing when you’re renovating 25 percent of our facilities.”
Ruybal also stated that they are going to have to move forward with something and there was no way to make everyone happy, but the outcome would be for the benefit of everyone.
“We want to change in Trinidad School District No. 1,” said Ruybal, “we finally got money to get change, but we have to give somewhere. Somebody has to give up something to get something. If not, we should have kept our four buildings and operated the way we were.”
Board Member Karen Montera stated she would like to see the board move on from discussion and let Ruybal do what he was tasked with and trust that he’s working with the principles to come up with the best possible plan.
“I believe we should take a vote and go with what Jeff has recommended and hope for the best,” said Montera. “I just don’t think we need to discuss it anymore. If we’ve already discussed it, how many times are we going to discuss it?”
Board Member Dan Ruscetti replied by stating it was impossible to vote on an item when there was no way of knowing the future.
“You really can’t come up with a plan and vote on it because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” said Ruscetti. “You can’t vote on something if you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. My opinion is to keep everyone where they’re at for the full year, that’s my vote. I don’t know what everybody else thinks.”
Montera responded by asking why Ruscetti felt he should try to top the staff and principles when they were the ones actually on the premise and knew what their teachers and students needed.
“I just feel that Dina is the principle and she knows her staff and her students,” said Montera. “Why are we trying to top her when she knows what she has in her building? We’re trying to tell Dina what to do. I think that Jeff, Dina, Bonnie, and Mr. Smithy have worked together on this and they realize what could happen and what may not happen. What are we stalling them for? It’s time to do it and let them get on their way.”
Board Member Ed Romero expressed he would like to see a fully written out plan in regards to what Ruybal originally had in mind.
“We need to see a written plan and you need to put everything in there,” said Romero. “That’s what I’m getting from the public. You need to take everything into consideration from student safety to the time it takes teachers.”
“So next Wednesday comes and they don’t want this plan,” said Ruybal, “what else do you want us to do?”
“You start over,” said Board Member Joe Terry, who then began laughing.
Bonnie Aarons stated that with planning for closure and meals, it wasn’t feasible to have a written plan ready by next Wednesday and with board members pressing for a written documentation of plans Ruybal said they could have one ready for the following meeting.
“With everything going on with the virus, if you would give Diana and I a little time instead of wanting it next week, we could do that,” said Roybal “That way we can get everything in there.”