We are trying to plan a path forward, but again, how we can proceed depends on county and state metrics related to COVID-19. The district has worked closely with our county health officer and county health team, and they have been terrific in helping us devise a three-phased plan to begin to allow some students back onto our campuses. This plan has been created with the health and safety of our students and staff members as the primary consideration.
A few weeks ago I let you know we were going to bring very limited numbers of students into some schools for services and instruction that could not be provided remotely. That was Phase I of our plan. Having a declining rate of new COVID-19 cases, a smaller percentage of positive tests, and a hospital properly equipped to handle new cases allowed us to move into Phase II of the plan. The district will start summer school for middle school and high school students, extended school year, and STEAM Camp under the parameters of Phase II. Elementary summer school will be held in July.
The district plan honors the state guidance of having no more than 25 individuals, students and staff, in a designated area with proper social distancing and health and safety precautions. The logistics of the plan are detailed and include contingencies for increased cleaning and hygiene protocols, transportation, and school lunch in addition to instructional components. Again, we have worked on this plan in cooperation with our county health team and have followed guidance from the CDC and Wyoming Department of Health in addition to incorporating information from other sources such as the White House plan to reopen.
We understand that no matter how careful we are in planning, we cannot mitigate all the risk associated with COVID-19. Therefore, a remote learning option will be provided. So if you do not feel comfortable having your child attend summer school on site, he or she can take advantage of an adaptive learning option. Students with underlying health conditions or those who live with someone who might be health compromised should consult their healthcare provider. Any staff or student who is not feeling well for any reason should stay at home.
In addition to summer school, the district is going to begin some summer activities for students who want to participate in things such as weight room, open gyms, FFA, and summer band, for example. The guidelines and restrictions will be tight to begin with and will follow the state orders. Again, all protocols will be reviewed by our county health team.
Remember that all summer activities are voluntary, and families should decide what fits their own personal situations. The district will work with you to try to meet the needs of our students the best way we can.
The looming question out there for all of us is probably “what will happen in August?” Well, the unsatisfying answer is we just don’t know. The governor and state health officer have been very clear that they will be making decisions based on data, and they have created a state dashboard of COVID-related data they are tracking and using for decision making. The most important metric will be whether or not the citizens of Converse County are getting sick with COVID-19. We will be working over the summer to develop plans for several contingencies so we can adapt to the situation the closer we get to the start of school in August. Our hope and our goal is to be able to return to our classrooms. We miss our kids, and despite what they say, I think they miss school too.
When new information becomes available, I’ll communicate it out over the summer. Check our websites and social media accounts for the most updated information. Again, thanks to all of you for your patience and graciousness over the past weeks. We appreciate all of you and your efforts to support our teachers and teams as they reinvented educational delivery for our students. Have a terrific summer.
Dr. Paige Fenton Hughes, Superintendent