Poudre School District scraps staggered start plans, will also start school year remotely

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 20:48:37-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Kids in northern Colorado are joining their peers across much of the Front Range by learning remotely when the 2020-2021 school year begins on Aug. 24.

The Poudre School District announced the change in a letter to district staff and families Tuesday, saying they would be scrapping previous plans to begin the year in a staggered approach and will instead begin classes remotely for all its students.

The district’s previous tentative plan would have seen some students learning at home while others learned on campus, but in a letter now posted on the district’s website, Superintendent Sandra Smyser said it was “unwise to open schools in our current environment.”

“Schools will be closed to in-person education through at least the end of first quarter, Friday, Oct. 16,” Smyser wrote in the letter. “We will re-evaluate public health conditions between now and then and determine whether we can responsibly open schools or if we will need to continue remote education.”

The superintendent acknowledged the challenges that come with remote learning for all grade levels but said she does not want the district’s actions “to result in a potential spike in cases in our community.”

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Smyser also wrote the district has been tracking Larimer County COVID-19 data and has been in constat communication with the county’s health department.

“These are not easy decisions and there is no perfect answer. One of the biggest concerns we have in Larimer County and for Colorado is the delay in test results," said Tom Gonzales, Larimer County public health director in a prepared statement. "We are seeing a substantial delay in COVID-19 test results from all clinical labs, including the state lab. For contact tracing to be effective, we must obtain timely test results within 2-3 days. The way we prevent outbreaks in our schools is to test, trace and isolate. With cases continuing to rise, counties across the state will struggle to conduct timely contact tracing with this delay in results.”

Smyser said the district was working to finalize the “many critical components of and questions about this new opening plan,” and would provide an update this Friday, Aug. 7, with more detailed information about what parents can expect before the school year begins.