Dear Cherry Creek School District community,
On Aug. 17, we will welcome students back to classrooms – In-Person and Online – across our 108 square miles, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Our dedicated teachers, staff and administrators have been away from students since March 12 – that’s over 150 days. We’ve all chosen our jobs because we love teaching – we love guiding and mentoring students, and we love watching them grow. Being physically separated from our kids for five months has been a challenge for everyone in all of our buildings. We truly can’t wait to get back to learning alongside our students.
But even as we celebrate the return to the classroom for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, it’s critical that we keep the safety of our community at the forefront. Over the past months, every decision we’ve made has been guided by what’s safest for our students, our families and our staff as we face a pandemic. That hasn’t changed.
The district is taking extraordinary measures that go above and beyond public health guidance to strive for safe conditions in all of our schools. Our strategy is rooted firmly in the latest data and science – that approach is at the foundation of the data-based metrics system I created to guide our decisions regarding whether to hold In-Person or Remote learning. What’s more, we’ve implemented free COVID testing for all CCSD staff, a key strategy to monitor the situation in our buildings. While that testing is not mandatory, we are encouraging all staff to take advantage of this service to help identify potential asymptomatic cases of the virus.
While all of these steps are critical, we can’t fight the virus alone. It’s important that we all work together to ensure we stay as safe as possible. As we prepare to open, I am asking every member of the CCSD community to do their part. Safe communities allow for safe schools. Please help your students avoid meeting with large groups of friends and maintain appropriate social distancing. Make sure that they wear a mask at all appropriate times, in accordance with state mandates. Keep careful track of your students’ health; make sure they don’t come to school if they’re feeling sick or show any symptoms.
In addition, it’s important that we all remain prepared for possible changes. Being ready for In-Person learning means being ready to close a classroom or a school if conditions become unsafe. It means being prepared to transition once again to Remote learning if the data indicates the virus is no longer under control in our community. We’re committed to communicating in a timely way to keep all of you posted on the latest updates. Parents will be notified if a student or staff member at their school has a confirmed case of COVID, and instructions will be sent home about next steps. When a confirmed case is identified, we will work with our public health partners to do contact tracing and to determine what action is necessary, which could mean asking a classroom of students not to come to school for a period of time and to monitor for symptoms. If there are multiple cases or multiple students with symptoms further action could be taken, such as quarantining a cohort, grade level or school for an extended time. You can read the CDPHE guidance for handling confirmed cases here that was released on August 12, 2020. You can view CDPHE flow charts about how long a student or staff member needs to stay home after a confirmed case here, and a CDPHE tool for determining next steps for a class or cohort when there is a confirmed case here. We will be following this guidance, as we do all other guidance from the State. Again, it is critical to the entire class that you keep your child home if they are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined in these documents.
We’ve spent the summer carefully planning for all possible outcomes. This week, we released a series of videos designed to help parents prepare for a successful return to school. These videos, along with the latest COVID data from Arapahoe County and other helpful resources, are available on our website. You can also find these videos and other helpful updates on all of our social media channels.
Before we kick off the 2020-21 school year, I want to directly thank the thousands of teachers and school staff who have dedicated themselves to maintaining CCSD’s proud tradition of excellence amid a global pandemic. You have poured your hearts into preparing classrooms and buildings for our students’ return. You’ve taken on new roles, learned new safety protocols and quickly mastered online teaching platforms. Thanks to your hard work and dedication, we are ready to welcome our students back, whether it be In-Person or Online. Thank you for all that you do. You are truly the heroes of this pandemic.
Personally, I am inspired and reassured every day by the monumental effort of our entire Cherry Creek School District community. You have all sacrificed so much to make sure that despite the current challenges, the coming year will be great for every single one of our students. It will look different, but thanks to all of you, this will be an amazing school year, one full of learning, growth and change.
Let’s have a great year.
Scott A. Siegfried, Ph.D.