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Update for Maintaining In-Person Learning

Update for Maintaining In-Person Learning
Posted on 01/11/2022

A Message to Jeffco Public Schools Staff and Families

Today, we want to share information with you about Jeffco’s efforts to maintain in-person learning and effectively operate schools.

Local and state epidemiologists are forecasting a continued short-term increase in COVID cases, followed by a relatively swift plateau and then a drop in cases. While we feel this bodes well for our continued commitment to in-person learning, we want to be transparent that Jeffco, like other school districts, is dealing with shortages due to staff being out with a positive COVID test or symptoms. As we previously communicated, we are not considering implementing remote learning as an entire district. However, we will consider remote instruction or short-term closures on a school-by-school basis should we have significant staffing shortages or not be able to operate in-person learning effectively for other reasons.

To keep our staff and families informed, we are instituting a process starting on Friday, January 14 wherein schools will communicate directly with their communities when their educator absence rate reaches a 25% threshold. The staff absence rate will be provided to schools by the district. This 25% threshold is an indication that the school is at risk for a temporary move to remote instruction or a short-term closure. However, behind the scenes our leaders and Ed Center staff will be providing enhanced support to these schools; everyone will be working together to try our best to keep them open for in-person learning. However, we are stretched for substitutes across our district and fully expect that we will not be able to effectively operate a school with a high absence and low substitute fill rate.

The way that this notification will work is that for a five-day period after a community is informed that educator absences are at the 25% rate, an update on the educator absence rate will be sent to that community by its school at the end of each school day for five days. If needed, we will use this communication to notify individual communities about a transition away from in-person learning and for how long that transition is expected to last. Please ensure that your contact information (emails and phone numbers) is updated in Campus so that you receive these notifications. We do want to be transparent that there may be instances when we must consider remote instruction or a short-term closure at a threshold lower than 25%. We remain flexible with a primary focus on effective operation of a school.

When transitions are necessary, we know families will need as much notice as possible. In addition, teachers will need a day to plan for instruction that is remote, instead of in-person, if that is the decision. We are hopeful that within the next month, the Omicron variant will decline in our community as will the need to monitor staffing levels to this detail. We will keep our community posted over the next few weeks.

Please prepare for potential disruptions in bus service.

We want to prepare families who rely on our buses to transport students that significant shortages in our bus driver workforce may result in the temporary suspension of individual bus routes. In addition to our already present driver shortage, we now have drivers who have COVID or are symptomatic. When we have to suspend a route, it is likely to happen with little notice due to the nature of our transportation workforce. We apologize in advance. If your child takes the bus to school, we encourage you to talk to your family members, friends, and neighbors now about an alternative plan for transportation if that becomes necessary. Again, we anticipate this being a short-term issue.

Please know, we will do everything we can to continue in-person learning and, at the same time, recognize that it may be disrupted for some of our students in the weeks ahead. It’s not easy for us to ask for your flexibility and we know it’s even harder for you to give it. We appreciate the support you are showing your schools and everything you are doing to support student learning outside of the classroom. We are hopeful that the challenge of increased cases and sickness in our community will be short-lived. Thank you for your patience, your partnership, and your support. We will get through all of this #BetterTogether.

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