November 16, 2020
Dear DPS #170 Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff,
District administrators, health care officials, and the Board of Education have been tracking COVID-19 infection and quarantine data since the beginning of the school year. The purpose of this monitoring is to ensure we maintain a safe school environment for our students and staff.
In the last two weeks there have been increases in infection and quarantine rates which prompted a special Board of Education meeting on Friday, November 13, 2020. This meeting had two primary purposes. The first was to give building administrators the opportunity to present total remote instructional plans which were developed by building leadership teams. Board members either approved the remote plans or directed principals to make some modifications. The second purpose was to allow school board members to consider an adaptive pause to all in-person instruction. An adaptive pause allows our students and staff to be safer by diminishing the probability of virus transmission. During an adaptive pause we will continue to monitor data for the purpose of determining when in-person instruction can resume safely. An adaptive pause does not mean teaching and learning stops. The remote plans will detail how learning will occur in each grade span. The remote plans will note specific times when Middle School and High School students are expected to use their Chromebooks to log in for live, online instruction. Elementary remote instruction will continue much the same as it has all semester with at least 2.5 hours of daily, live, online instruction for upper elementary students and more paper resources for our early elementary students. These plans will be posted on school websites no later than Thursday, November 19, 2020.
During the School Board meeting 20 letters from community members were read, COVID data was reviewed and local health officials provided input and insight. After reviewing the data and listening to individual stakeholder input the Board of Education chose to implement an adaptive pause starting on Monday, November 23, 2020. Students are scheduled to return to school on Monday, January 4, 2021.
The Board of Education, district administrators, teachers and staff want our students in the classroom receiving regular in-person instruction. An adaptive pause puts an additional hardship on families and this decision was not an easy one. We will continue to monitor local health trends and seek input from local and national health experts. As always, our families can expect to be informed of any Board of Education approved updates. Parents, guardians, and students are encouraged to contact teachers with academic questions. Building principals, site secretaries, and counselors will be available for any programmatic questions. Counselors will also be available for student’s social and emotional needs. Informational sheets will be sent out this week to ensure students and families know how to access technology help, speak to our building nurses, contact a school counselor, get Grab and Go food bags each week, and contact administrators and teachers for help.
Thank you for your patience and understanding during these challenging times.
Margo Empen - Superintendent