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Boulder Valley's back-to-school plan changes to remote learning only

District officials shared plans with the school board calling for a later start date as well.

BOULDER, Colo. — Editor's Note: Boulder Valley School District on Aug. 4 decided to switch from a phase 3 plan to a phase 1 plan for the start of the school year. The updated story can be found here, more information can be found on the district's website

Original story:

Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) officials on Tuesday shared with board members a plan for the school's return in the fall. 

Superintendent Dr. Rob Anderson told the board he recommended schools open one week later on Aug. 26 to allow for teacher training and classroom setups. 

While Anderson stressed plans could change as new data is released, he was confident the district could open in phase 3 of the 5 phases identified. 

Phase 3:

  • Blended in-person and online
  •  A bank of videos from teachers for teachers will be available as a fast process to get kids moving
  • All grades will have a remote learning day on Mondays while buildings are cleaned, and eachers will use this as a planning day. Then students will be split into two groups, A and B, and will switch off in-person and online learning the remainder of the school week.
  • The schedule provides additional space to maintain physical distancing at 50% capacity

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a remote learning day on Mondays. Conflicting information said students would be off that day, but Mondays will be remote learning for all students.)

Credit: BVSD
BVSD phases

Rob Price, assistant superintendent of operations shared safety measures as part of phase 3 which include: 

  • Staff and students required to wear masks; there will be "mask breaks" (probably outside) where social distancing can be maintained
  • Face shields and safety glasses will be provided  to staff but are optional
  • Six feet of distancing in classrooms (image below)
  • No non-essential visitors
  • Limiting the sharing of supplies
Credit: BVSD
BVSD classroom plan

Transportation protocols include:

  • Encouraging alternative modes of transportation; biking, walking
  • Passive screening for students prior to boarding bus
  • Face coverings while on bus
  • Max 2 students per seat
  • Open windows when the weather allows
  • Enhanced disinfection between student groups

Anderson said there’s still a long way to go to support teachers including child care, personal protective equipment (PPE), data transparency and employee leave. He did say, however, the district plans to partner with a community investment company that will allow for school staff to be tested for free every two weeks through COVIDCheck Colorado – Aurora Public Schools was the first district to partner with the company. 

RELATED: New program allows Aurora teachers to get tested for COVID-19 every 2 weeks

Credit: BVSD
BVSD support for teachers

Anderson added there is not a clear plan yet for if/when there is a COVID-19 outbreak in a school. He said 90 teachers have approved exemptions to teach online only and another 100 have asked for the exemption. 

Following the presentation, board members shared concerns about opening schools in phase 3. One member felt more comfortable starting school in phase 1 or 2 while another was concerned about the number of teachers wanting exemptions. 

Board members also asked about how schools and teachers would intervene if parents send sick kids to school, what tools teachers will have to ensure proper mask-wearing, and how to ensure students are treated fairly if there is noncompliance.

The board wants to meet with district officials again in about two weeks to discuss the back-to-learning plan and to get an update on data. 

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In a letter to families, BVSD said contrary to a rumor circulating that there was a July 15 deadline for enrollment in Boulder Universal (BU), the district's online learning platform, BU will continue accepting applications for the upcoming semester throughout the summer. BVSD also said in the letter that it would not limit enrollment.

"We know that many of our families are continuing to weigh the potential opportunities, as we near the new school year," the letter says. "As families receive more information about the health restrictions we will be required to meet and how learning will work in this environment, we will keep all of our options open, including BU."

BVSD said it would send out a comprehensive update of its reintroduction plan next week.

"We are committed to providing options that protect the health of our students, teachers and community, while also meeting our families' needs, including options for attending in-person (if conditions with COVID allow), online through your home school or a tailored online-only experience, through Boulder Universal," the letter says.

RELATED: Parents weighing tough decisions about returning students to school

Denver Public Schools announced Friday that it would offer students only remote learning for at least the first two weeks of school, until Sept. 8. District officials said they would reassess the situation on moving to in-person learning closer to that time based on current conditions with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

RELATED: DPS officials announce remote learning for first 2 weeks of school

On Monday, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) officials provided guidance to districts based on the latest information available.

Part of that guidance mimics the three phases of reopening Gov. Jared Polis(D-Colorado) put into place for the state: stay-at-home, safer-at-home and protect-our-neighbors. 

Many districts across the state had previously announced fall reopening models that included full in-person, hybrid or fully remote options for parents.

RELATED: Cherry Creek School District to offer in-person learning for all students

RELATED: DougCo plans for return of in-person learning this fall

RELATED: Class during coronavirus: Schools in and around Denver make back-to-school plans

RELATED: Jeffco Schools planning for 100% in-person learning for fall with remote options

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