School district likely to resume in-person classes this fall

“Flexibility is the name of the game”

By Kendra Walker

Gunnison Watershed School District superintendent Leslie Nichols sent out a video message to families this week addressing the hope that students will be back on site in the fall. She also gave updates regarding summer activities and the district’s COVID-19 taskforce plans. 

“I’m here to say that we are going to resume in-person classes this fall and it will be an unusual year. We don’t know exactly what it will look like,” said Nichols. The district is taking many factors into consideration, including possibly conducting classes in shifts to keep student sizes down, and how to manage the cafeteria, recess and passing periods. Health and safety measures including disinfection, hand washing, health screenings, social distancing and masks are also being taken into account.

The district’s COVID-19 taskforce is working on these factors to prioritize physical safety and health, academic growth and achievement and social and emotional health for students, staff and families. “We’re working tirelessly on this and we will be keeping the safety of the kids at the forefront of every decision we’re making,” Nichols said. “Our mission remains to ensure that all students are successful.”

The result of the taskforce’s efforts will include a series of handbooks for families and staff, with guidance and direction for Summer Experience, Summer Athletics and Return to School.

Summer Experience registration has begun for both Gunnison and Crested Butte, with Gunnison programs taking place Monday through Friday from June 8 to June 25 and from July 6 to July 23, and in Crested Butte from June 23 to July 23 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. However, there will be no Lake Preschool program.

Nichols said classes will be in groups of 10 children to one teacher, and there will be no district transportation or overnight trips through at least July 1. More guidance will follow in the Summer Experience Handbook.

For high school athletics, Nichols said the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has allowed contact between coaches and high school students after June, with no team camp travel allowed until at least July 1. More guidance will come in the Summer Athletics and Activities Handbook.

Nichols also said the district hopes to continue its free summer food service. “We surpassed 30,000 meals given out last week,” she said. “We are working to secure funding to keep this continuous service throughout the summer.”

The district will also be releasing a survey later this week for families and the community to share thoughts and feedback for the taskforce to take into consideration.

“We know how hard it is to have kids not in school,” Nichols said. “We want to tell you thank you, we appreciate you and we are grateful for your partnership.”

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