Douglas County School Board leaders approve plan to reopen schools in the fall

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Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 10:52:16-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- On Tuesday, the Douglas County School District Board motioned to approve a plan presented by a task force to reopen schools in the fall and resume in-person learning.

The decision to approve the framework was six-to-one with the understanding the plan is subject to change, given constant changes and challenges COVID-19 has presented.

The plan as revealed by the board will give families the choice of in-class learning or online courses. A comprehensive eLearning option will be offered at each of the schools, according to the plan.

Students who attend in-person class will undergo temperature checks and will sit six feet apart from one another. It's too early to know how many students will be allowed in class. Under the current executive order, group gatherings within a school building are limited to ten people, including staff. The current executive order expires at the end of June, which will help determine the classroom size.

Under the new framework, teachers will take on more responsibilities.

"We will have to help identify staff to help support the eLearning," Chief Academic Office Marlena Gross-Taylor said. "That is terribly unfair to ask the teacher to do in person and then support the eLearning."

Getting to school on the bus will also look and feel different.

Under the current guidelines, the task force recommends only nine students per bus with a 77-person capacity. They hope to gain approval for a second option, which will allow 24 students on a 77-person capacity bus. The task force is recommending eliminating bus routes closest to schools. During the meeting, they also discussed turning to third-party bus companies to assist with transportation.

Masks are recommended under the current plan presented; however, a teacher who spoke up during public comment suggested that staff should wear face shields to help deaf and autistic students who rely on visual mouth cues.

"A face shield for all staff will provide whole visual support for students with hearing loss," the teacher said during a Zoom meeting where faces were not visible. "The face shield will also help students who receive speech therapy… could also benefit students with autism."

The board agreed that moving forward with the plan would help flesh out more details of what to expect next fall as they inch towards a new school year.

Currently, about 68,000 students attend Douglas County School District schools. The plan recommends putting a limit on the number of visitors.

For more information on plans recommended by the task force, click here.