This week we presented to the Board of Education our initial thinking around a model for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. These meetings are public and open for news media coverage, which is exactly what happened this week. Many of you may have seen the stories from various media outlets about our, and other Denver metro-area school districts', first thoughts and considerations about restarting school in August.
I understand the prospect of school in the fall being different is difficult to process. Jeffco Public Schools is committed to returning to some form of in-person learning in the fall, while also keeping our students, staff, and community safe.
These are polarizing times and, as with many issues, people jump to one side or the other quickly. I understand some will feel the district is moving too fast, that there is too much risk, and that we should either just cancel school entirely or continue with remote learning options only. Other people may feel the district is over-reacting, that the virus is not that bad, and that we should just restore school to what it was, as if the virus did not exist.
We reject both of these and seek a middle path. It is in the best interest of our students to have some kind of in-person learning experience. It is also in the interest of our entire community that we take every step we can to keep everyone safe.
Going forward, our decisions will be based on the best scientific evidence available, input from public health professionals, and feedback from our staff and community.
This is going to be difficult, and many unanswered questions remain. But we are committed to meeting this challenge because we believe doing so is the only correct choice for our children.
Our draft plan will be released to staff for input on Monday, May 18. It will be released to the public on Friday, May 22 along with a survey to solicit feedback from the community. Following each of these distributions of the draft plan, we will evaluate the feedback, seek out ideas and solutions, and adjust. We will also continue to look for scientifically sound best practices from around the world to help guide us. We must commit to adapt to changing conditions as we plan for a return to school in the fall.
In tandem with this restart planning process, we are also working on finalizing our school district budget for next year. This presents its own set of complex challenges considering the anticipated and significant reduction in state funding and tax revenue that will impact all school districts across Colorado.
It seems most critical now, perhaps even more so than when we embarked on the COVID-19 crisis response, that we pull together as a community and focus on what’s best for our children, our schools, and our future. I wish we had different circumstances and a different set of facts. We do not control these, but we do control our response.
Jason E. Glass, Ed. D.
Superintendent and Chief Learner