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FAQs on School Reopening
Below are frequently asked questions and sample answers about the reopening of schools in your district. This FAQ can be customized with your district's information and turned into a handout, posted on your district's website, or used as a reference guide for district representatives when speaking with stakeholders.
- How do you plan to bring students and teachers back to physical school buildings while also following physical distancing and cohort requirements?
- Where can I access information about my child's school reopening plans?
- Do my children have to attend school in their school building this fall to meet state attendance requirements?
- My child may have missed important subject matter content last spring. What is the plan to make up for lost material?
- How will you support students and staff who are unable or uncomfortable to return? Will administrators, teachers and staff who are identified as higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 be forced to enter school buildings?
- How will district and school leaders, teachers and staff know how to limit the spread of COVID-19?
- How do you address staff members who are ill or whose family members become ill?
- How will you address students who become ill at school?
- Will fall and winter sports be offered this year? What about other activities such as band and clubs?
- What precautions are being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 while students are transported to and from school on school buses?
- Will students take assessments this year?
- Will the PSAT/SAT be offered this year?
- Are districts required to continue to provide services to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
How do you plan to bring students and teachers back to physical school buildings while also following physical distancing and cohort requirements?
[DISTRICT] is following state and local guidance and public health orders to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Our goal is to have in-person learning, when possible, while taking steps to protect the health of students and staff. We are implementing a variety of tactics to protect staff, including mask wearing, cohorting, physical distancing and others. The more tactics we can use, the safer in-person learning will be, so we urge parents and students to support the new processes. [CONVEY SPECIFIC PLANS HERE. Such as, "Our goal is to return to in-person instruction, but we will be prepared to pivot to remote instruction if we see increased incidence of the virus in our community."]
[DISTRICT] has made the information available here [ADD WEB LINK].
Do my children have to attend school in their school building this fall to meet state attendance requirements?
This year there is flexibility in how student attendance is counted to accommodate remote learning. The state has amended the requirements for counting instructional hours for this year only to include remote learning days implemented as a result of public health and safety measures as student contact days.
[2020-21 CDE Policy on Instructional Time and Student Attendance: Local boards will need to adopt policies defining remote learning, document ways in which teacher-student contact will occur and define how attendance will be considered.]
[CONVEY LOCAL REQUIREMENTS HERE]
My child may have missed important subject matter content last spring. What is the plan to make up for lost material?
School leaders and teachers will be assessing and evaluating each student's academic needs and striving to help them make up material they missed. [BRIEFLY DESCRIBE LOCAL ASSESSMENTS PROCESS AND HOW PARENTS WILL BE GIVEN ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION.]
How will you support students and staff who are unable or uncomfortable to return? Will administrators, teachers and staff who are identified as higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 be forced to enter school buildings?
We are following state and local guidance and public health orders designed in order to operate our schools as safely as possible. We do understand that families and teachers are very concerned and that some students and educators are at a higher risk for becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. Ultimately, parents need to do what feels right for them and their children. [DESCRIBE REMOTE LEARNING PLANS, SUCH AS "Parents will have the option to continue remote learning if they don't feel safe sending students into school buildings or if they have health concerns. Similarly, school employees will have the options to either teach remotely, use larger classroom space to maintain social distancing measures, or explore other options until risks are reduced."]
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Education released guidance on how schools should operate based on the latest science to protect students and educators. It includes protocols for health screening, mask wearing for all adults and children ages 11 and up, physical distancing and keeping students in cohorts as much as possible. And of course, we will be stressing the basic guidance for washing hands, not coming to school when you are sick, maintaining physical distance and [LOCAL GUIDANCE DETAILS].
[DISTRICT] advises that any school staff with symptoms stay at home and communicate the situation with their supervisor. If a teacher is absent, we will [ADD DISTRICT SPECIFIC PROTOCOL.] [DISTRICT] asks that all students and families take their temperatures and check for symptoms daily before coming to school. We will implement temperature checks and/or screening at the school site if a screening did not occur at home. These procedures will include temporary staff such as substitute teachers.
Our schools have routine protocols for caring for students who become ill at school. We have strengthened these protocols for students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. [DESCRIBE LOCAL PLANS FOR CARING FOR STUDENTS WHO EXHIBIT COVID-19 SYMPTOMS]
Will fall and winter sports be offered this year? What about other activities such as band and clubs?
[DISTRICT] is committed to offering sports and other activities in a safe and healthy manner. [DESCRIBE WHEN SPORTS WILL RETURN OR EXPLAIN STEPS TO KEEP ATHLETES AND SPECTATORS SAFE / HOW CLUBS MAY OPERATE. CDPHE and CDE are currently working on guidance for sports and performing arts. Districts may want to say they will update their local guidance based on new information from CDPHE and CDE. ]
What precautions are being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 while students are transported to and from school on school buses?
[DISTRICT] has taken steps to ensure the safety of students on school buses, including limiting capacity, physical distancing and mask wearing [INSERT STEPS SUCH AS MAINTAINING SOCIAL DISTANCING ON SCHOOL BUSES].
CDE has compiled resources and recommendations on operating buses safely:
- COVID-19 Transportation Resources and Q & A
- Guidance on Physical Distancing - Buses and Suburban Transportation
- Guidance Regardless of Phase
State assessments (CMAS, PSAT/SAT, and CoAlt) are currently scheduled to resume and be administered in spring 2021. As with so much of what we will be doing this year, assessments may be adjusted in response to COVID-19 conditions. We will update you if administration changes are made to the state assessments in the spring.
For districts and schools choosing to provide the PSAT and SAT:
The Colorado Department of Education has arranged for school districts to offer juniors and seniors the opportunity to take the PSAT and SAT assessments that they missed last spring. Although these tests are not being required for admission to public colleges and universities in Colorado this year, we know that many of our students will still want to take a college entrance assessment as another way, in addition to grades and activities, to demonstrate their accomplishments.
In-school test dates (subject to change): [DISTRICTS/SCHOOLS IDENTIFY THE DATES YOU HAVE CHOSEN]
SAT (for students in 12th grade)
- Primary test date: Wednesday, Sep. 23
- Primary test date: Wednesday, Oct. 14 (added)
- Make-up test date: Tuesday, Oct. 27 (revised)
PSAT (for students in 11th grade)
- Primary test date: Wednesday, Oct. 14
- Alternate test date: Thursday, Oct. 29 (revised)
For districts and schools choosing NOT to provide the PSAT and SAT:
This fall our seniors can take the SAT on one of five available Saturday administration dates at state expense. Seniors choosing to take the SAT on a Saturday must have a voucher in hand when they register. Interested students should contact [insert school contact person] for a voucher and information on how to register to ensure that they are not charged a fee.
Are districts required to continue to provide services to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
If schools are closed and no educational services are being provided to the general student population, the district would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same time. If in-person learning is suspended and the school continues to provide educational services to the general student population, it must ensure that students with disabilities have access to the same educational opportunities and Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This means that –to the greatest extent possible– the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP should be provided. Once in-person learning resumes, the district must make every effort to provide special education and related services consistent with the child’s IEP. In addition, the district would need to make an individualized determination as to whether compensatory services are needed to address regression or loss of skills because of a closure or suspension of in-person learning. CDE recognizes the questions surrounding compensatory education services and will work with both districts and other educational stakeholders to develop more specific guidance as additional information becomes available.
See more questions involving students with disabilities here: http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdesped/special_education_faqs#iep.
The Colorado Department of Human Services and CDE have compiled a Resource Guide for Individuals Hosting and Families Participating in Instructional Learning Pods.