July 10, 2020
Dear CRMS Families,
I hope that this finds everyone in your family healthy and that you found time to safely enjoy the July 4th weekend. I want to reiterate as I have done in the past that it is important for students and families to begin developing good, healthy habits throughout the summer so that they make a seamless transition back to the school community. Those habits include:
- A personal health check-in and staying home when any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 develop. This check-in is as simple as taking a moment to be aware of how you are feeling that day and if there are any changes in your energy level, temperature, and pain or soreness that is different from the norm.
- Wearing a mask in public spaces or when spending 15 minutes or longer with another person, who does not live in your house.
- Washing hands frequently, particularly after touching public surfaces.
- Resisting the desire to physically greet people by shaking hands or hugging and keeping your social distancing to 6 feet.
Please be on the lookout for our second letter this month in which we go through some of the new expectations we will have for the community based on maintaining a healthy community and minimizing the risk of exposure to others in the school. I hope that the letter provides clear rules and consequences, which we will review in person at the start of the year with our students so that we can start the year off with a common understanding of how we can take care of ourselves and support each other.
Since my previous letter, families have reached out with questions that I am sure are also on the minds of many other people. So I share the answers to those questions below—[you can access a detailed list of questions on our
1. I know that the school has asked students to self-isolate 14 days before coming to campus; what is the difference between isolation and quarantine, or are they the same?
Both of these terms take on different meanings depending upon whether a person has tested positive for COVID-19 or if it is just a preventative measure. “Isolation” for a sick individual requires that they not interact with others during the time that they are contagious. A “Quarantine” restricts individuals’ movements, whether they are sick or healthy, and keeps them from interacting with other healthy people.
To reduce confusion for all families and students, we will refer to our expectations for healthy students at the start of the year as “self-confinement” and a “campus quarantine.” These terms more accurately describe what we are attempting to accomplish.
We ask students to reduce exposure and limit the possibility of becoming infected before they arrive on campus by isolating themselves from others outside their family. Self-confinement requires that the student not expose themselves to any person or situation that might increase the likelihood of catching the virus. Self-confinement for this period of time before coming to campus reduces the possibility of the student arriving ill and spreading the virus within our community. Work, trips, and gatherings that expose the student to other people should be avoided during this period of time. Home is always going to be the safest place for students to spend their time in self-isolation, but unlike a quarantine, their movements are not restricted to the home exclusively.
Every student should experience 14 days (new day students begin self-confinement on August 10 and returning day students would begin self-confinement August 16) without any symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test before arriving on campus. Our faculty and staff will have confined themselves to campus for two weeks prior to starting faculty meetings and well in advance of welcoming the boarding students back for the start of the campus quarantine (see below).
A related question to “self-confinement”: Can families receive specific expectations around self-confinement prior to coming to CRMS?
The simplest way to view the “self-confinement” of a healthy individual is to keep themselves from being exposed to COVID-19, particularly by an individual who is potentially not showing any signs or symptoms (asymptomatic).
During this period of time, you should:
- Stay in your home, and only leave if you are able to maintain non-exposure during that time outside.
- Continue to monitor your health daily, and if you feel any signs or symptoms, contact a medical professional.
- Maintain strict hygiene practices.
- Have at home everything that you will need for these two weeks so that you don’t have to go to the store or make what amount to unnecessary trips (with planning). Examples might include your favorite snacks, bicycle tubes, laundry detergent.
We have been asked if a student can work during the self-isolation period. As a simple rule: If you are working on a job that exposes you to other people or the possibility of contracting the virus, then ‘no,’ continuing that work will not be possible.
The goal is to ensure that everyone starts the year healthy – we view any of these restrictions as necessary, temporary measures that give us the greatest chance of having a good start to the school year. This goal will only happen, however, if we take these measures seriously.
Another related question to “self-confinement”: What will happen if I can’t self-confine for 14 days prior to when the school year starts?
The students will need to complete a 14-day confinement and a saliva test prior to joining the community. We are expecting everyone to be open and honest about their compliance. While we want to welcome everyone back for the school year at the same time, we understand that the virus may get in the way of that plan for specific individuals. Because the community's health depends on everyone doing the right thing, deliberately neglecting these expectations or dishonesty around them will jeopardize a student's place in our community.
2. What can my student expect to be doing during on-campus quarantine?
The campus quarantine that will take place initially with our boarding population will restrict students’ movements to the campus but will allow them to move about within the campus boundaries (we have over 320 acres to enjoy). Students will not be free to venture away from campus without school supervision. The campus quarantine assumes that the student is not showing any signs or symptoms. A more restrictive quarantine results from a positive test for COVID-19 and requires that the patient stays at home or in an on-campus quarantine facility for the duration of the illness.
The campus quarantine of our boarding population ensures that any individual who has gotten sick just prior to or during their arrival to campus does not impact any day students or the local valley population. No visitors will be allowed onto campus at any point during this period through their departure for Fall Trip.
Orientations and Quarantine Quests:
During campus quarantine, new boarding students will jump right into their Orientation. Returning boarding students will choose “Quarantine Quests” activities for week 1 on-campus - think CRMS sport and art favorites. Both new and returning boarders will choose “Quarantine Quests” for week 2. These Quest groups will define their small pods for the mornings, and then these same pods will engage in afternoon activities. The Active Office will send out “Quarantine Quest” registration information on July 17th.
New Day Student Orientation will begin with a short afternoon welcome for families on Aug 24th and then continue through the week ending on Aug 28th. Orientation groups will have activities both on and off campus including two overnights. These groups will be independent and separate from the quarantining boarding students.
3. Will CRMS be doing any testing?
On August 24, we will have each member of the community (day and boarding) saliva tested for COVID-19 (this is a non-intrusive test, and it is being done free of charge to the family). Assuming that these tests confirm each student (day and boarding) and faculty member’s health, we will integrate the two communities, and all healthy students will be allowed to go out on Fall Trip. If an alternative date is required for this saliva test, please notify us, and we will work to ensure that we have a confirmed test for that individual before they go out in the backcountry. A student who does not complete an appropriate period of self-confinement at home in the Roaring Fork Valley or an on-campus quarantine will not be able to go out on trip.
4. Will there be clear expectations for boarding and day students/families regarding COVID-19?
We will be sending in the next letter our guidelines and subsequent rules. We will also share at that time the consequences associated with them, when applicable.
5. Every year students encounter mild colds that will, in all likelihood, keep students from attending school until it is sure that they do not have a more severe illness. How will the school keep them engaged in their learning?
We revised our in-person learning schedule and developed class plans recognizing that students may be absent for extended periods. Each class will meet three times per week in the fall/winter term (usually we have four class meetings per week in the first term). As a result, students will have less to juggle, or miss, on any given day. That said, it will be necessary for students to stay on top of missed class-work. Thanks to a robust learning management system, Canvas, students can easily access class materials they need. It is also important to note that teachers will continue to post a daily syllabus outlining the learning targets, class activities, and assessments for each day. This is the best place for students to look to see what they missed. We encourage students to reach out to their teachers anytime they miss a class or have questions. Our new in-person learning schedule has four student meeting blocks each week, providing additional time for students to connect with their teachers.
6. Will there be a virtual way for students to participate in class if they are home for precautionary measures or in isolation?
Our classes are not going to be recorded on video, and there will not be real-time access to a class via zoom or some other platform unless the entire school transitions to distance learning - please see the answer to #5 above.
Due to the unique situation each international student faces, we will be working individually on an academic plan with each international student's family to determine the best solution for them based on their country's health status, visas, and potential travel restrictions.
7. How is/can the school encourage healthy social interaction if students aren’t allowed in dorms?
Our reasoning behind restricting dorm access is based on the belief that they need safe spaces where they can take off their masks. The dorms are the residential student’s home, and by restricting access to their residence, they can be assured within reason that they don’t have to wear a mask while inside. If we were to allow anyone access to the dorms, then we severely compromise this space as being a sanctuary to those residents by creating a dynamic in which transmission will be far more likely due to the shared space and duration of exposure. Having a clear rule and a place for our students is a priority for us.
Outside of the dorms, we have remodeled the Bar Fork student lounge and invested in outdoor seating so that students can hang out in a relatively safe manner. When the weather turns on us, we will transition the outdoor spaces into the larger indoor areas that we have, but we will have to abide by county regulations that limit population density.
We recognize that this past quarter's State-mandated “stay-at-home” isolation practices have negatively impacted students' social/emotional growth at a critical time in their lives. The best way to ensure that this doesn’t happen again is by limiting community spread by keeping students healthy so that they can go to school for in-person learning.
8. What impact will COVID-19 have on sports programs this fall?
CRMS is fortunate to offer a wide variety of outdoor-related activities, many of which lend themselves to social distancing. However, every activity will have specific expectations regarding distancing, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing. The teams that may be the most impacted by COVID-19 are soccer, cross-country, and biking. In these cases, we will be looking to the Colorado High School Activities Association and the Colorado High School Cycling League to determine whether and how team sports will be taking place this fall. These associations play a significant role in both allowing competitions and the guidelines that will need to be in place; additionally, CRMS may also have expectations and guidelines that we feel best protect our student-athletes.
If these associations decide not to allow a competitive season, CRMS plans to continue team skills development with safety measures and create internal challenges so that student-athletes continue their development and keep their edge. It is highly unlikely that CRMS will offer a soccer preseason due to quarantine requirements and the higher contact risk of this sport.
Students who plan to participate in non-competitive athletics will do so under appropriate social distancing and COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.
9. Will guests be allowed to come to All-School Meetings this fall?
Parents will be able to join us if we are hosting on-line all-school meetings. Unfortunately, one of our cherished traditions, weekly in-person all-school gatherings in the barn, will be suspended until we receive new guidance from the State regarding the number of people who can gather in one place. We suspect that if we host any in-person gatherings, they will be done outdoors, and parents can check-in prior to arriving to see whether we feel comfortable including guests, and how we would do it safely.
10. When will students hear about Fall Trip and what they will be participating in?
Students can expect to hear from the Active Office regarding their fall active assignments and Fall Trip registration on July 17th. We aim to share trip assignments by the end of July, allowing enough time for families to purchase any necessary gear associated with their trip.
Thank you for your attention to this important information. Just as a reminder we will be sending out a second letter later this month with additional information. You can always reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.