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The district is committed to keeping our schools open in a safe and healthy manner. The district works closely with our state health officials and our local health officials. We are meeting regularly with our local health advisory team, which is made up of doctors and nurses from the Montezuma County Public Health Department and our local hospital. This local health advisory team is actively reviewing and advising us on our plan for 2020-21 and we will be updating it as often as necessary based on changes in local and state health guidance.
Below is the full Citizen's Guide to Reopening document.
We strongly recommend that every student and family read this Reopening Plan, as each section has vital information regarding every part of the school experience. If you have questions about a certain topic you can jump to a section of the plan below.
Use the (+) to expand each section and explore each important topic.
Dear Parents and Community,
On behalf of all our staff, let me express how much we missed seeing our students every day and learning together in person last spring. I am so proud of all of the hard work and dedication that our staff, teachers, health care workers and community have demonstrated in helping us prepare for this year, and I know that this local strength will help us succeed with our intentions for our 2020/21 school year.
Like you, our number one commitment is to the safety of our students, staff, and community. To fulfill this commitment, we’ve created this Citizen’s Guide to Reopening – it represents our best thinking to date on how we intend to open schools this fall. Our plan provides quality in-person and fully online learning options while taking all necessary steps to protect the health of our students, staff, and community. We arrived at our decisions by incorporating guidance from the Colorado Department of Education, the Governor's Office, CDPHE, CHSAA, and our Montezuma County Department of Public Health. Through a close partnership with our local health experts we studied how to best implement all these guidelines on a local level. We also conducted several surveys and held board meetings and town halls, in order to incorporate feedback from teachers, staff, families, and students. This input informed our planning as well.
The district recognizes the importance of our local community COVID context in making these difficult decisions regarding implementation of our health and safety guidance as well as responding to positive cases of COVID in our schools. If COVID cases in our community and schools increase, the district may need to adapt our plan to further reduce risk. We will be meeting regularly with our local health advisory committee (Health Department, Hospital, and Tribal Health Department, and local physicians) to review our local COVID data and risks and consult on the implementation or updating of our plan.
Many aspects to education will look different this year, and many processes may change when it comes to managing our responses to this virus. Transportation, mealtimes, clubs, athletics, extracurriculars, and basic in-building behavior will all need to follow necessary safety protocols. Through a combination of personal protective equipment, social distancing, health screenings, enhanced cleaning, ventilation improvements, facilities modifications, and occasional online learning, we will work to maintain health for all, while supporting our students in reaching their personal and academic goals.
At first glance some elements of this might sound too restricted for happy learning, but I believe we will still be able to provide an engaging education and have a successful year. With rigorous teaching, weekly staff collaborations and assessments, high-quality technology for each student, and continued commitment to equity and social emotional learning, every student will be supported, every day.
Again, our first commitment is to the health and safety of our staff and students, and I look forward to building even stronger ties with our families throughout this year. We all need to approach this year with flexibility and the ability to adapt as conditions change locally and guidance changes from the state. We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and each other healthy. Let’s continue a strong partnership and help our students reach their full potential!
Lori Haukeness, Superintendent
Montezuma-Cortez School District is committed to providing a healthy and safe work and learning environment and we will continue to collaborate with the Montezuma County Public Health Department to ensure we are in compliance with all state requirements as well as our local health officials guidance. The health and safety guidelines for RE-1 will apply to all staff, students, and any visitors to our district buildings and schools. The following are the health and safety guidelines the district will implement based on current guidance. These guidelines may be updated from time to time based on changes to state requirements, local health guidance, and local health conditions.
All staff and students will need to complete a health screening at home using the COVID screening process every day before coming to school. The screening criteria for COVID from the Health Department and CDC are included below.
Students or staff that are experiencing any of these symptoms or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID should not come to school or work.
Staff should notify their supervisor if they are calling in sick due to this screening. Parents keeping their children home due to this screening should report this when they call into the school to report their child’s absence. Any staff or students testing positive for COVID need to notify Sue Ciccia, District Director of Health and Nursing.
State guidelines do not provide limits on class sizes but state that schools should try to maintain 3–6 feet between people wherever practical. This section may change from time to time with new state guidance and will be updated accordingly.
Health clinic services – The district school health clinic is planning to operate as usual and will continue to provide a variety of non-COVID related health services to our staff, students, and families. COVID related health services will be available through qualified community health providers and the hospital.
The district is committed to providing a safe and healthy learning and working environment for all our staff and students. For students who may be medically vulnerable or at increased risk for COVID, the district will work with the family on what accommodations can be reasonably made in the in-person learning environment and will also offer a fully online schooling program as an option. The district also recognizes that there are employees who may meet various criteria associated with higher risk for COVID as defined by the CDC. The district is committed to providing personal protective equipment for these staff including high-quality masks, face shields, and plexiglass partitions in the work environment. Employees who wish to request an accommodation due to their personal risk should contact HR directly. Requests for accommodations will be reviewed and processed using the established ADA criteria and process.
The district is working closely with the Montezuma County Health Department and our local hospital on guidance for responding to cases of COVID in our school communities (staff, students, families). The district recognizes the importance of local community COVID context in making these difficult decisions regarding implementation of our health and safety guidance as well as responding to positive cases of COVID in our schools. If COVID cases in our community and schools increase, the district may need to adapt our plan to further reduce risk. We will be meeting regularly with our local health advisory committee (Health Department, Hospital, and Tribal Health Department, and local physicians) to review our local COVID data and risks and consult on the implementation and/or updating of our plan. At this time, we are planning on implementing the following procedures for communication, quarantine, school closures, and return to school.
The Facilities Department prioritizes the health, safety, and education of all MCSD students and staff within the educational environment. In alignment with guidance from public health guidelines, the facilities division will continue with necessary construction and maintenance, as well as the following:
The Transportation Department will support students by providing safe and timely transport services for eligible riders attending in-person learning. We will continue to serve special education needs. Transportation will follow state and local public health guidelines.
Plan for meal service for our online learners – MCSD will continue to provide school breakfast and lunch to all online learners who would benefit. Our normal payment structure will apply. A variety of packaged meal options will be available for pick-up. The district will communicate more information about the process for signing up for meals, ordering, and pick-up processes to parents and families involved in the full-time online school program. Students involved in temporary online learning due to quarantine will also have access to this meal service.
While the extended school closures have a significant impact on the education of students statewide, it is recognized that students with disabilities, English language learners, and our gifted and talented students may experience increased challenges due to the changes in instructional method and environment.
The provision of special education and related services operates within the broader context of the general education curriculum and instruction continues to be a driver. It is important that a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) continues to be the touchstone for the IEP process, including special education eligibility and services during the extended school closures through the return to school and instructional programming.
The District will continue to collaborate with the San Juan BOCES and Colorado Department of Education for guidance addressing special education and related services during the extended school closures. District special education teachers will also provide services to support our online students who have IEPs. Following are general considerations for students with disabilities (IEPs and 504 plans).
In order to protect and support our amazing students and our beloved community as a whole, we are dedicated to establishing comprehensive and timely communications strategies across multiple channels. This upcoming school year will hold more communication complexity than usual. We know that each family has its own preferred communication tools, and we know that families that choose in-school teaching will relate to schools differently than semester-long remote learners.
In addition, when in-school learning switches to short-term distance learning as needed, educators and families will need to draw on a great deal of organization and flexibility. On top of that, changing health guidelines from state and local experts as well as changes in the health of the community will also affect how we operate, and that will require swift messaging.
In order to reach multiple audiences during a fluctuating health crisis and simultaneously interface with two learning tracks, clear and timely communications must reach everyone as soon as possible. To succeed at this, what follows is our multi-pronged approach:
We are so proud of the teamwork that has taken place in our community since March, and we will strive to continue our healthy engagement with all parents and the county as a whole. We will distribute surveys throughout the year to see what works best, and Superintendent Harkness actively welcomes emails with any comments or concerns. Parents and families: don’t forget to set up your Parent Portal account online – you can track your student’s progress from this account at any time.
The success and safety of MCSD’s students and staff, whether in an in-person or remote learning environment, is our top priority. The primary focus of our Communication plan is to ensure timely, accurate information gets to staff, families, students, community in a thorough and reliable way, so everyone is empowered to make informed decisions and actions.
We will have prepared messages to send out when illness is confirmed in the school, when a significant number of students are found ill, and when schools need to close due to the illness. Communication will go out via multiple methods: television, social media, email, letters home, text, and voicemail. See Section 1 for details about what protocols and communications will take place during outbreaks in our schools.
We will continue a close relationship with our local health department, so any change in community wellness will be shared and broadcast a soon as possible. This relationship will help both schools and hospital keep you updated with timely information about the virus and how to remain healthy.
Both schools and the district will continue to convey key urgent communication about snow days, threats, etc. to families and the community.
MCSD leadership will meet regularly with the Ute Mountain Ute Education Department in order to stay closely connected on all needs, updates, and processes during this unique school year. In addition to all the communications mechanisms outlined above, MCSD will also utilize tribal bulletin boards, public television, the community radio station (KSUT) now broadcasting in Towaoc, and any other tools as is needed.