As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Pikes Peak Region, Harrison School District 2 announced Thursday, July 23, plans to welcome its youngest students into its buildings starting Aug. 17, and to stagger the return of older students to the physical classroom.
Classes had been slated to start Aug. 10 in all D-2 schools. However, according to a letter to families posted Wednesday on the district website, the district opted to follow guidance from El Paso County Department of Health and push back the date.
“This allows for four full weeks to evaluate the impact of mandatory masks and other mitigation efforts on local COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to better inform school health and safety strategies,” Co-superintendents Wendy Birhanzel and John Rogerson wrote in the letter.
The tentative schedule, subject to change due to the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic, starts Aug. 17 with:
- Grades K through 5 conducting in-person instruction and e-learning, as selected by families.
- Grades 6 to 12 undertaking remote learning. Middle and high-school teachers will be at their schools to provide this remote instruction.
- Sixth through 12th-grade center-based special populations will receive in-person instruction.
The expectation is all students will be either in class or in remote-learning environments as opted by their families, by Sept. 8.
The district also announced two virtual Q&A events for families interested in learning more about its reopening plan. The first session is slated for 6 p.m. today, while the second is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 29. Links to both sessions may be found at the district site or by clicking here.
By starting with in-person learning for elementary school students, the district is accessing the youngest and most-vulnerable of its population — a group most likely to need support, the district letter said.
“Cohorts are easier to implement at this age, and younger students are less likely to contract … or spread the virus,” the superintendents wrote.
Student check-in and registration is still scheduled to take place the last week in July, and will be a time for families to decide whether their students will attend classes in person or remotely via eLearning. For dates and times, visit your school’s website or Facebook page.
“The Superintendents of the Pikes Peak Region appreciate the continued partnership with leaders at El Paso County Public Health,” the superintendents wrote in their letter to families. “We know that EPCPH shares our values when it comes to student, staff and family health and safety. They have worked with us consistently to achieve those goals. The consensus of regional superintendents is to support the county's recommendation to delay the start date of in-person schooling in El Paso County until at least Aug. 17.
“We trust our community to respond appropriately and model the safe practices of social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing that is necessary for us to safely open schools for in-person learning.”