Yesterday both St. Vrain Valley School District and Boulder Valley School Districts announced a delay in the start of in-person instruction. They are starting the school year with remote instruction. A number of you have asked us what that means for BVWS.
As of today we are continuing to plan for a start to the school year with in-person instruction.
Why is BVWS taking a different approach than local districts?
Ultimately it comes down to size and facilities. We will be serving under 100 grades students in an expansive campus and with very small cohorts. At our scale we can implement and sustain all of the State and County mandated safety standards in a way that a large district—which has to contend with school buses, food services, big shared buildings for a network of schools, each containing 500-3000 students—cannot.
It is also worth noting that while both districts are launching with remote instruction, this does not actually mean all students are staying home. Both districts will be hosting thousands of students at Elementary schools throughout the district, with district personnel essentially proctoring remote instruction for students whose parents need to send them in for care. They will be doing this while upholding the same standards we will be, using cohorts with extensive safety protocols. Our cohorts will be smaller.
The situation with the COVID pandemic is constantly changing. BVWS is continually monitoring and analyzing the latest developments. At this time we feel that we can safely operate in-person instruction with extensive precautions. As the situation evolves, we will continue to re-evaluate this decision, and we cannot categorically rule out a shift to distance learning.
We recognize that as a community there will be a diversity of opinions amongst our members about the pandemic and how best to respond to it. We encourage people to respect each other’s right to form individual opinions. When it comes to how Boulder Valley Waldorf School will operate, we will follow public health directives from the State of Colorado, Boulder County Health and Licensing Departments, for the safety of all in our community. The policies we develop around safety will be a requirement of attendance.
Below are some of the extensive safety measures we will be employing when we return to in-person instruction:
Cloth Face Coverings:
All children 1st grade and above need to wear face coverings on BVWS campus at all times when indoors, and outside when a 6-ft distance cannot be consistently maintained. Additionally, faculty and parents will be face coverings.
Students will continue to receive differentiated instruction in their specific classes – sometimes called a learning pod. Students will remain in their cohort group throughout the school day, including recess and lunch. All cohorts are 20 or fewer students. Each cohort will have a designated classroom and outdoor classroom space where they can maintain distance from other cohorts.
Symptoms, Staying Home and then returning to School:
We will be very strict this year about screening for signs of illness, and requiring anyone showing symptoms to stay home.
There are three reasons for anyone (teachers, staff, parent or child) to stay home:
1) have symptoms consistent with COVID-19
2) have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms
3) have recently been in a high-risk area
If you have had symptoms you can return to school after:
· At least 14 days since symptoms first appeared and
· At least 24 hours with no fever (without fever-reducing medication) and
· Symptoms have improved.
If you have no symptoms but tested positive, you can return to school after:
· 14 days have passed since the test and you continue to have no symptoms
· Depending on your healthcare provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get retested for COVID-19. Regardless of test results, you must stay home for the full 14 days, per the Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment: https://covid19.colorado.gov/for-lphas-health-care-providers/additional-guidance-resources/cases-and-outbreaks-in-schools
Expect to hear more about our safety protocols in the coming weeks.
Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health Executive Director on in-person learning: