Weekly Superintendent Update, Aug. 6

Weekly Superintendent Update, Aug. 6
Posted on 08/06/2021
Dr. Diana Sirko

August and the beginning of the school year bring with it the thrill of learning new things, the anticipation of making new friends, and the joy of beginning a new chapter in our lives. While it can be an exciting time, change is hard, and it can feel overwhelming for our children, our families, and our staff. A reminder for middle school families - your child’s school will start Aug. 11 to allow for staff training from Capturing Kids’ Hearts Aug. 9-10.

Since the release of our Keeping Schools Open Plan on July 16, the CDC, CDPHE, and AAP have all released new guidance strongly encouraging (but not requiring) the use of face masks in schools. This advice was one of many considerations taken into account during a meeting of our Keeping Schools Open Task Force, which met Wednesday evening. The task force comprises local health experts (including physicians and Mesa County Public Health), district leadership and teachers, and parents with differing views about the best way to proceed with the 2021-22 school year.

Based on guidance and discussions at the Task Force meeting, we have decided to make the following updates to the Keeping Schools Open Plan. The plan as it stands now includes the following: 
CDC, CDPHE, and AAP recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. District 51 highly recommends and strongly encourages all students and staff (regardless of vaccination status) to wear masks in our schools and facilities.

* Harassment, shaming, or bullying of students for wearing or for not wearing masks will not be tolerated.

* Visitors to schools during school hours must wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.
* Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose will be required on all Student Transportation of America buses, as required by federal order.
* Please click here for procedures to address positive cases, reduce the spread of the virus within our schools, testing and quarantines.

We are excited about the start of the school year! As we stated in July, the plan is subject to change as conditions change, and protocols and procedures could be lifted or added as needed throughout the year. 

Online Education Options

Grand River Academy (GRA) is currently enrolling students, with seats available in both the online-only program and the blended learning option for middle and high schools students, as well as limited openings in the blended elementary option. The blended learning option features online education matched with one day of in-person instruction at Grand River Academy. If your child was enrolled in D51 Online last year, they will not be automatically enrolled in Grand River Academy - if you would like to send them to Grand River, you must request enrollment in Grand River, or they will be re-enrolled in their previous school. Please contact GRA at 254-6393 for more information.

COVIDCheck Colorado changes

The COVIDCheck Colorado testing sites that had been located at Fruita Monument High School and Grand Mesa Middle School have been relocated to the parking lots at Fruita 8/9 School and Central High School. The Fruita 8/9 site is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and the Central site is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both sites offer nasal, saliva, and rapid test options. Students and staff members wishing to schedule a test will no longer need to provide their student or staff ID number to register. Click here to schedule an appointment.

New information can be a relief to some, scary for others, or even stir feelings of anger. At the heart of each of these emotions is a deep-seated desire to do what is best for this community’s children. Please know that we share that desire and that we are reading and listening to your comments, though we may not always be able to respond due to volume.

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