Dear CRMS Families, Faculty and Staff,
 
In these extraordinary times, Colorado Rocky Mountain School is moving thoughtfully and strategically in response to rapid global developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We sincerely appreciate how our community is moving forward with unity, thoughtful action, and compassion.
 
In consultation with the Board of Trustees and the administrative team, we have decided to delay our scheduled return from spring break by two weeks by moving to a distance learning format .  During spring break, faculty will be planning a robust curriculum, and we currently plan to welcome back students to campus on Monday, April 13 (boarding students showing no symptoms of the virus) can arrive on campus as early as Friday, April 10. We hope that this extended period of time will allow for the national and local responses to the virus to take effect and will enable us to achieve some normalcy when we welcome students back to campus to complete the school year. 

Details of the Plan:
  • Faculty have already begun planning for the distance learning format, and this includes a planning session scheduled for March 23.

  • Classes will not be held on Monday, March 30, to allow faculty to collaborate and prepare to implement all the dimensions of our distance learning plan. 

  • Starting on Tuesday, March 31, students will be oriented in this new format via a Canvas resource page, IT support hours, and a video conference (Zoom) all-school meeting. 

  • Classes will officially resume that afternoon in a virtual format using Zoom video meetings and our Canvas Learning Management System [see schedule]. All students will be expected to follow this schedule based on Mountain Daylight Time (Colorado, USA), and be online and logged into Canvas and Zoom at the regularly scheduled class times. 

  • Teachers will take roll. Please call our attendance line (970-963-2562) if your student needs to be excused from class. We will also need to know if your student missed class due to technical challenges. Teachers will provide a daily syllabus on Canvas and record Zoom class discussions. These resources will be helpful to students as they plan for class and study on their own.

  • All families should expect to hear from the IT department by Monday afternoon (March 23) with more specific information about remote login.

  • Information about individual classes--curriculum, format and additional supplies needed--Will be provided before the start of class on Tuesday, March 31st.

  • We will proceed with remote learning through Friday, April 10. You can expect at least one communication every week from the school. If during that period, we have not notified you about any additional extensions, then boarding students can plan to return to campus as early as Friday, April 10 to get oriented back into on-campus life. 
 
As a boarding school we appreciate the diversity represented within our population, and any decision that we make will take into account the trends internationally, nationally and locally. As a protective measure, we ask that families use the two weeks after break to self-quarantine the students while they participate in the distance learning program to ensure that they minimize the risk of bringing the coronavirus back to campus with them. It is important to note that in all likelihood a return to campus will include a variety of measures that will in all include restricting access to campus and campus facilities to CRMS students and employees, as well as other possible measures that we will plan around based on more current information closer to that date. 
 
It is quite possible over the next few weeks that we will learn more about the impact this virus will have on our program. We will communicate any changes at the earliest possible time so as to minimize the impact on the students.
 
At Colorado Rocky Mountain School, we always come together to face a challenge, and we are committed to working to protect every member of our community. Distance learning will require that we embrace the spirit of innovation and remain flexible and attentive to each other’s needs. The two weeks after spring break will be an opportunity to allow some other forms of learning outside of collaboration to flourish.
 
I am presently committed to providing our students with a strong sense of community through the remainder of the school year. These are important years in their social-emotional development, and students need to feel connected and responsible to others beyond themselves. While social distancing practices make this a challenge, we will continue to have all school meetings and advisor periods over the two weeks we are away from each other, and we will continue to do this upon our return in ways that make sense and are manageable.
 
The preventative measures to remain healthy through this difficult time remain the same: we can reduce the spread of illness by practicing social distancing and good hygiene.  
 
Please look for a second and third letter with follow up information from me scheduled for early and late next week respectively. I want to be available to current families who have questions; if this interests you, be on the lookout for a link to a Zoom conference held on Thursday, 4:00 p.m. We would ask that you submit questions to jleahy@crms.org in advance of this call. 
 
A primary goal of the school is to look after the health and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and we also bear a sense of responsibility to our local, regional, national and international communities. I want to thank the entire school community for all the support and good will that has been extended during this challenging time. We have for many years talked about how our program prepares its students for uncertain and challenging times, and from everything I have seen, this has been validated over the course of these past few weeks.
 
My best,
 
Jeff
Answers to Likely Questions

My student remained on campus over the spring break, do they need to leave?
At this point, we plan on maintaining our boarding program for all of the students who are residing on campus over the break. If your boarding student returned home for the break, we ask that they remain with you until the campus reopens. You will notice in the schedule that we are preparing to keep them active during their time here.

Given the news I have shared above, please be in touch with us about any changes you have to the status of your student. We will continue to give all our students on campus the attention that they have received throughout this first week. The distance learning format allows for them the opportunity to remain here and engage in our program within a model that will be unique and different due to the size of the community, but allow them to feel engaged and active.
 

How will online learning work for students?
We have upgraded our technology infrastructure to integrate the Zoom video meeting software into Canvas. Teachers will be trained on using that platform. The goal will be to provide as much continuity in curriculum and learning activities as possible. All students will need a computer with a camera, speaker, microphone and reliable internet access. Access to a printer will be helpful, but not required. If you have limitations with technology at home, whether with devices or connectivity, please reach out to Nancy Draina or Eric Krimmer .
 
If your student is on campus, they will access the same distance learning format as the remote students. We will not be running two separate academic programs during the two-weeks. 
 

What is the plan for athletics and other extracurricular activities?
Until further notice, all athletics and extracurricular activity will be suspended, unless you are a boarder who remained on campus over the spring break. No practices or games are permitted by CHSAA (they have been suspended until April18). Wellness is an integral part of our programming and we’ve maintained a time for fitness in our weekly schedule. Students will learn more about fitness options next week and during their first advisory block.
 

Will academic support be available?
We have four hours of student meeting block times scheduled throughout the academic week. Faculty will be available to call, email or video conference with students during these hours. We strongly recommend that students use these blocks to study so they can reach out to their teachers in a timely manner with any questions. Please encourage your student to stay in touch with their teachers--we will look forward to hearing from them. Learning Center staff (Heather Froelicher and Lane Errickson) will be available to students during regularly scheduled meeting times and during Student Meeting Blocks.


How can I support my student as they navigate the process of distance learning?  
Students may benefit from having someone to discuss their intellectual life face-to-face. Make this an opportunity to show your interest and hear what they have to say. Encourage your students to reach out to their teachers to self-advocate, ask questions, and remain connected. Ensure that your student has set up an effective study space, free from distractions (including cell-phones) and appropriate for video conferencing. Finally, reach out to your child's advisor and teacher as needed.  


Where can I find ongoing updates about CRMS’s response to the COVID-19 situation?
We are preparing a page on the school website, which will include past communications and we will update regularly. It will also include answers to frequently asked questions. The link will be provided in the next email Jeff sends out.


Will we begin before April 13 if the local public schools do?
We do not foresee opening prior to April 13 and have the unique challenge of coordinating student travel. In the best interests of the entire community, it is not realistic for us to begin earlier than this date and will not be changing course to an earlier opening. There is simply too much uncertainty going on right now, that we want to give our families some clear dates to begin to plan around. We appreciate your patience with this.


One state (Kansas) has already announced schools will be closed until the end of the year, will this be true for CRMS?
As of today, the state of Colorado has only issued directives on temporary school closures based on COVID-19 appearing in the community. If that state decides that schools need to remain closed until the end of the year, we will extend our distance learning platform to ensure we bring the academic year to completion, and we will communicate at that time any necessary arrangements that need to be made regarding our boarding students, senior project, graduation, and any other pressing issues that will need to be addressed if that were to happen.