March 24, 2020
Dear Osprey Families,

Yesterday morning, our staff gathered for the first of many online meetings to prepare for students “returning to school” next Monday, when we will launch remote teaching and learning. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of work involved in figuring out how to translate an Animas education--which is anchored in interpersonal relationships and hands-on learning--to this new reality. Our staff is forging ahead in Osprey style, thinking deeply about how to adapt our classes, maintain community and support all students. We’re already gaining valuable 21st century skills as we navigate the range of online tools and platforms out there. Truly, there’s no group of educators on the planet that could possibly be facing this challenge with more creativity, positivity and love!

We want to share a few updates with you all in response to questions we know you may have.

What will AHS remote teaching and learning look like? All teachers will have fresh posts on their faculty digital portfolios by next Monday morning that will include lessons and assignments for each class. We believe that the best and healthiest remote learning doesn’t have students sitting in front of computers in isolation from 8:30 to 3:30 every day, and we recognize that a schedule like that will not work for every Osprey family. Therefore, classes will not “meet” at designated times, but rather students will complete work at times that work for them, with built-in opportunities to collaborate with peers and teachers throughout the week. 

Please note that we will provide print materials to those without reliable internet and computer access so that all students can keep growing and learning. We are also developing safe strategies for getting any necessary instructional materials to students. For the time being, students are not allowed on AHS campus; please reach out if there is anything on campus that you need and we will find a way to get it to you as soon as possible. 

The senior teaching team has already decided upon some adjustments to Senior Project, which have been emailed out to all seniors. Curious to learn more? Check out this video to seniors from Senior Humanities teacher Ashley Carruth , where she shares how much we miss our students and how we’re thinking about the importance of human connections in the midst of social distancing.

How will AHS provide support to students and families in this difficult time? Advisors have begun reaching out to all students to find out how they're doing and to see what families need. This will help us get a clearer sense of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our school community and help us problem-solve moving forward. We’re working on a letter that we’ll send out in the next week or so that shares ideas about how Ospreys can both offer and receive help in this time of need. For now, we want to be sure that all families know about two resources available to all:

  • Durango School District 9R is providing access to free breakfast and lunch in take-home packages at central pickup sites for all families in Durango, beginning tomorrow. Please visit the 9R website for details.
  • Charter Communications is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription; more details here.

What’s the latest on how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact AHS programs and events? AHS will remain closed at least through April 17 and all AHS events scheduled before that date have been canceled or postponed. We have not yet made decisions regarding LINK Internships, Prom, All School Exhibition, Senior Celebration, Senior Supper or Graduation.

Janae sent out an email to juniors and their families this afternoon asking for input that will help us weigh options for LINK Internships and we hope to have a final decision in the coming week. Prom is currently scheduled for April 24 at the Elks Lodge and they have graciously let us know that we can wait to postpone or cancel. While it seems unlikely that Prom will be able to take place on that date, we’re waiting for more information before making that call. This is also the case for May events. What we can promise is that we will absolutely find creative and meaningful ways to celebrate the AHS Class of 2020 if we should have to postpone or cancel any of these events. 

What are the latest recommendations around COVID-19? We continue to coordinate with San Juan Basin Public Health as we monitor the global Coronavirus pandemic. As you are aware, the current COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and we want to make sure our families have the most up-to-date information. According to the recent notification from SJBPH , “there is currently a local shortage of tests for the novel coronavirus COVID-19.”  We assume that COVID-19 is spreading in our local community and that the current data listing only one confirmed case in La Plata County is not accurate, due to the lack of the ability to confirm cases through testing.  The goals of the temporary testing site that opened recently in Durango are explained in this SJBPH news briefing .  We expect that we will have the test results from 100 individuals who were symptomatic and met specific criteria to be tested in the next five to seven days, which will provide health officials with a more accurate snapshot of what virus spread looks like in our area. 

Moving forward, it is important to proactively practice social distancing as much as possible, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, as ordered by Governor Polis and follow  prevention strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19, as recommended by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.  Non essential outings will save lives and should be avoided as much as possible. SJBPH has issued a stay at home advisory and we urge our Osprey families to follow those recommendations. 

Please keep reaching out with your questions, encouragement, ideas and concerns. Our Osprey community is strong and we are so very grateful for everyone’s patience and support as we use this week to put all the pieces in place so we can more fully reconnect with our students on Monday. 

Be well,
Sean and Libby