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Update from the Superintendent

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As secondary students continue to be phased back to in-person learning next week, it is important that we all continue to do our part to ensure the safety of our staff and students, as well as our ability to keep our schools open. While middle school students will start back on a full day, four day a week schedule on Monday, we will have high school students return to a half day, four day a week in-person model to ensure that we leverage our resources to maintain elementary and middle school programs.  As we can ensure that resources are adequate and transmission rates continue to drop, our high school students will increase back to full days.  We truly want to return all students to a five day a week full day program as soon as it is safe for all involved.  


Our community is really pulling together to follow the guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID, while working hard to support each other, our students and our local community.  As transmission rates begin to slow, vaccines are beginning to be administered and testing is widely available. Thank you all for doing your part so that we can continue to make strides in regaining normalcy. If we all continue to wear our masks, watch our distance to others, and limit activities with those outside our household, I know we will enjoy even more success in this second semester than we did in the first. 


We know how important it is to have our students in school with their teachers and their peers, not only for their academic and social success, but also to support the needs of our local economy and community. It takes all of us to make this work and to ensure that we are practicing these safety measures both inside and outside of school, as our actions will have a direct impact on our ability to continue to operate in-person learning and maintain staffing needs for such. New quarantine and PPE guidelines will also reduce this impact on our ability to maintain operations.


All in-person students will attend four days a week starting February 1, which are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Most Wednesdays will be remote learning days, with the exception of a few professional development days that will occur on a Wednesday each month, which in that case will be a non-school day. These Wednesdays are used to support our additional efforts to go above and beyond in our cleaning and disinfecting, and also support our efforts together with local health authorities in slowing the pace and need for contact tracing in our community, and reduces risk of quarantines of students. 


I did want to address our recent snow events and our district's action as a result of these challenging days.  These are difficult decisions and made only after our staff and I are out on the roads across the vast region we serve and in direct contact with our La Plata County Emergency Management team.  We will always have school when it is safe to do so.  Because Durango adjusted its calendar due to the challenges we were facing with COVID, we no longer have “snow days” built into our schedule.  When it is unsafe to have students and staff travel to school, we have two options, add time on at the end of the year or use remote learning to continue the learning process on these days for students.  We recognize that snow days bring a bit of excitement for students.  We encourage that we all use it as an opportunity to teach time management so that students can maintain both their school work and schedule a break to enjoy the snow.  This will not be the district’s standard next year, but is simply a necessary action to manage the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in during this pandemic.


Thank you for reaching out to me or your school leaders to share ideas, thoughts and frustrations. We know this has been a demanding school year and we are all learning adaptability and patience. Thank you again and we look forward to welcoming students back to schools on Monday!

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