Good evening Owl Families...
We are working as quickly as we can to solve problems and make decisions, in a constantly changing environment, here at Aspen Ridge. While this is a scenario and situation I would have never guessed just a few short months ago, I'm proud to be a part of a community that is vested in making every effort to be proactive and compassionate throughout this decision making process.
To date, decisions have been working their way through the CRT committee, which is making recommendations to our local board. Our committee includes a nurse practitioner, who is constantly updating us with statistics (as close as possible) for our area and our community. We have also done a ton of research through CDE, CDC and in working with our local health public office. Since we straddle both Boulder and Weld County, we are using as much applicable data as possible. This has helped us put everything into perspective and has helped us to shape some of the decisions we are charged with making.
CDE has published many resources that provide guidance for schools to reopen this fall; here is
as a reference for your convenience. It gives some great perspective in relation to mitigation strategies to lower the risk of transmission. We are also following mandated requirements at the state level and will continue to do so as we move through the school year. These will continue to change and we are prepared to be fluid and flexible throughout.
Currently, our CRT is working on our sick policy and how it will be managed as the year gets underway. During a pandemic, the guarantee that our policies will be stringent should be expected. The CRT is also continuing to focus on student cohorting, implementing mask requirements and taking into consideration reasonable measures to socially distance students in the classroom, sanitizing materials and collaborating on new and exciting ways to keep our students engaged and learning. The Kindergarten team met this morning and we have some exciting ideas to get the year started off on a GREAT foot for some of our newest and youngest Owls. Even in the midst of the unknown, the problem solving and creativity of this staff is out of this world! I'm so thankful to be able to utilize their professional knowledge, experience and ideas.
At this time, as difficult as it may be, we are asking that each family fill out the Learning Plan Intent (click
). This will help give us the clarity we need to be able to plan successfully and to get both the virtual and on-premise year started successfully. The deadline to make your choice is this Sunday, August 2nd. If we don't hear from you, we will assume you are wanting to start off on-premise.
By filling out this form, you will help provide a more exact number of how many students our cohorts will contain and what we can expect to see on campus. If you read through the guidance attached, the state is not giving specific numbers for student cohorts (based on the various school circumstances every school around the state may have). It just so happens that we have large classrooms, we are following the guidance for every logistic we can think of (from library books to distancing to clear pathways in the classrooms), we are continuing to keep our class sizes capped between 20-24 (max) to ensure that we don't overcrowd our school with the 200+ families that are currently trying to enroll, we are masking appropriately, we are staggering lunch schedules, recess schedules and being creative with our enrichment/elective schedules (so that everyone still has access to them), we are stressing the importance of hygiene, clean hands and personal body space (and the list goes on and on).
Several families have asked why we are not following the hybrid model that SVVSD is implementing? Governor Polis has given the autonomy to local boards to make decisions best for their community. While SVVSD is having to take into consideration 40,000 students (PreK-12), across a vast area of space, we are able to make smart decisions based on our community and what best fits our needs during this unusual time period. While we are an authorized charter school under SVVSD, we are not privy to district plans or their decision making processes (which I have no doubt are great), without giving up the autonomy that makes our school so wonderful and that allows us the ability to make decisions that are best for our staff, students and families. (The reason most people choose a charter school to begin with.) Additionally, be it "right" or "wrong", we also believe that it will be safer in the long run to have our students in attendance, 5-days a week, with cohorts and strategic mitigation strategies in place. In a hybrid situation, there is no guarantee where students may land (childcare, friends, etc) on days they are not supposed to be on campus; thus, potentially negating any efforts that have been made to mitigate transmission risks through the cohort model.
There is not a right or a wrong answer; just a better fit for each family (which I'm proud to be able to offer in these circumstances). We definitely won't be perfect and we will make mistakes as we enter into this unknown school year, but our teams' focus continues to point towards our students and the safety of all--which is where it should be.
We have an amazing Board of Directors, a strong group of stakeholders working tirelessly through the CRT, a phenomenal community of students and families, and a dedicated group of teachers and staff. These are just a handful of reasons I would hold Aspen Ridge up to any school in our vicinity (but I'm also very biased).
If you haven't already started thinking about the extra considerations for the upcoming school year, you may start collecting masks and having your students wear them in public. All students will be required to wear them to enter the building and during transitions outside of their classroom. Everyone age 11 and up will be required to wear masks throughout the day. I've seen some ideas for breakaway lanyards for the littles to keep their mask close to them, or using the gator style (or buff) to prevent mask loss. You'll want to make sure they are clearly labeled, if not anything else. We are asking all families to provide school supplies as in every other year. If we think of anything that we need that is not on the list, the school will provide it for all studnets. If you are struggling or in a monetary bind, please don't hesitate to reach out to Mrs. Rebecca (our school counselor). We have some great resources and very generous families. (email@example.com)
Lastly, I'm sure you are curious to know who your child's classroom teacher will be (as are the teachers). After all intents have been filled out and classes have been re-balanced to adjust for virtual and on-premise learning, your teacher will be in contact with you. We are working on some creative ways to host Meet the Teacher Night and give classroom tours, while not inviting all families to be on campus at the same time. Information will be coming to give you more clarity.
Please feel free to reach out if you have further questions. You have my full support as you make a decision best for your family.
Charla Salmeron, Principal