School district reminds families to stay on risk reduction tools

Also proposes changes to 2021-2022 calendar

[ By Kendra Walker ]

As the local school district headed into February break this week, superintendent Leslie Nichols addressed families in a video message reminding everyone to stay committed to the district’s risk reduction tools, and shared the district’s ideas around next year’s school calendar.

“Our collective efforts to aggressively manage the unwanted presence of COVID in our lives has allowed our schools to remain open to in-person learning without interruption since August 26,” she said. “As I hear more news stories about large districts across the country still struggling to open, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that our Valley’s children have been learning on a regular school calendar this year – phenomenal.”

Nichols reminded families that even with this great effort, we are not done managing this virus. “While the vaccine rollout in Gunnison County is proceeding very well, we must remain committed to our risk reduction tools for many months to come. We know that our schools continue to be safe places for our children and staff to do the beautiful work of teaching and learning, and that’s true because we haven’t let up at all on our risk reduction tools.”

The risk reduction tools include daily health screenings at home and school, staying home when sick, mask wearing, physical distancing, strong ventilation practices and cleaning/sanitizing/disinfecting. Vaccination has recently been added to the list as well, and Nichols stressed the importance in filling out the County’s Vaccine Interest Form. “Get your vaccine, it makes a difference for all of us.”

Nichols reminded families that activities that spread the virus include travel, carpools, play-dates, sleepovers and dinner parties. “It is imperative that we continue our strong commitment to ALL of our risk reduction tools over break!” she reinforced. “Thank you for working hard over this break to continue aggressive risk reduction and help keep COVID at bay.”

Since the beginning of the school year, the district has tallied 120 positive COVID-19 cases, with 35 in Crested Butte and 85 in Gunnison. Over the last seven days, the district has recorded fewer than three positives cases across both ends of the valley.

Nichols also shared potential changes the district is considering to the 2021-2022 school year calendar. Ideas that would impact Crested Butte Community School include: ending first semester before the holiday break, shortening the October break from five days to two days to match Gunnison’s break, and adding three days to the first semester since first semester is shorter than the second; and have the January MLK Day and the October Indigenous People’s Day as district-wide holidays. Another idea is to expand the early Wednesday release to Gunnison schools as well.

“For years we have hoped to work toward a more aligned calendar across the district,” said Nichols. “Many families work in one end of the valley and have children in school in the other end. Better alignment would reduce scheduling stress in these cases, and would allow for greater collaboration across the district, which benefits kids with more innovative teaching and support.”

Nichols said that these are only ideas at this point and a parent survey is in the works. “I need your input on those ideas and feel free to email me but also watch for a survey that will be coming your way soon where you can express your opinions about the calendar ideas.”

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