EPSD In-Person Learning Updates

December 16th, 2020

Dear EPSD Community,

As we prepare to go into a much needed winter break and embark on 2021, we would like to wish our families a very happy holiday season.

We know that this year has been a difficult one and we are very thankful for our students, families, teachers, staff and community for their support, patience, and understanding as we have navigated 2020.

We have heard our families when they have expressed concern, frustration and sadness about students not learning in-person. We share in your sentiments and we too are concerned about missed academics, social-emotional experiences, as well as the many social experiences and milestones our students normally have. Additionally, we take the role in protecting the health and safety of our students, staff and community when our schools are open, very seriously.

With close guidance from the state and the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, we have been following protocols to keep COVID-19 transmission rates within our schools extremely low while in-person learning has occurred. Unfortunately, these protocols have also resulted in quarantining staff members, including teachers, bus drivers, nutrition staff, office staff, etc. resulting in not having adequate staffing at our schools to keep our students safe and engaged in learning. Additionally, following these protocols has also resulted in increased student absences, which affects learning as well.

Given these circumstances and the new protocols released from the Colorado Department of Education late last night, we have made a data-driven decision for reopening our schools after the winter break.

Based on the data we have received it is recommended that even with high rates of COVID-19 in the community, our state and national health experts recommend in-person learning for students because COVID-19 is rarely spreading in schools.

New COVID-19 Protocols to Allow Schools to Stay Open

Quarantine Guidelines:

  • Schools will have the ability to do targeted quarantines at all levels, including middle and high school.

  • In alignment with updated CDC guidance, schools will have more flexible quarantine procedures due to increased testing availability, allowing students and staff to safely return to class sooner. This lessens the impact on the ability to keep schools open.

  • By mid-January in alignment with the phased reopening plans, Estes Park School District students and staff will have access to no-cost COVID swab or saliva tests through our partnerships with LCDHE.

Click here for the full Roadmap to In-Person Learning from Governor Polis' office.

We need help from the community to lower COVID-19 numbers

We continue to see high levels of COVID-19 in our community and in Larimer County. We also know that when we follow public health guidelines we can drive those numbers down. It becomes easier for us to implement our plans for reopening schools, and stay in school in-person, if the community helps lower the incidence rate to 500 cases per 100K or lower.

While we are committed to reopening schools for in-person learning with these new protocols, we also realize if COVID-19 becomes too out-of-control in our community, we would be faced with yet another closure and revert back to Cloud School. When making decisions about school, we will be looking at the Larimer County incidence rates as well as the trends that infections are moving. For continued monitoring on how the virus is impacting our community, please visit Larimer County COVID-19 Dashboard.

EPSD Phase-In for Reopening Schools in January

The phase-in plan for reopening schools in January allows time to see if there is a surge in COVID-19 cases from the winter holidays that would impact our ability to operate. It also allows several days of student and staff testing to identify potential asymptomatic cases.

Our hope is that conditions will allow us to begin the second semester as follows:

  • Monday, January 4th, 2021: Staff Development/Preparation Day-NO SCHOOL for students

  • Tuesday, January 5th, 2021: DEADLINE to register for the Estes Park Remote Learning Academy for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. (For more information, please contact Mary Barron as soon as possible.)

  • Tuesday, January 5th through Friday, January 15th, 2021: Remote Learning for all grades, all schools, including Estes Park Remote Learning Academy. Boys and Girls Club and special services/small group offerings will continue to be available until in-person learning resumes.

  • Monday, January 18, 2021: No School-Dr. King Day

  • Tuesday, January 19, 2021: PK-8th Grades: In-Person Learning begins (Remote learning continues for 9th-12th Grades through January 22nd, 2021)

  • Monday, January 25, 2021: 9th-12th Grades: In-Person Learning begins

Free Meal Reminders

Over the winter break, the nutrition services department will be distributing meals to our families on the following schedule in the back Elementary School parking lot (families will receive 5 meals total on each of these days to last the entire week):

  • Monday, December 21st from 9:30 am-11:00 am
  • Monday, December 28th from 9:30am -11:00 am

After the new year, the free meal services will resume on their regular Tuesday and Thursday schedule as follows (pick up window of 9:30 am to 11:30 am):

  • Tuesday, January 5th and Thursday, January 7th
  • Tuesday, January 12th and Thursday, January 14th

For questions, please reach out to Theresa Montgomery with our nutrition services department.

Parents and guardians will receive additional information and specific information from their appropriate buildings no later than January 4, 2021. We would like to thank our community and families for sharing the common goal of our student and staff safety, and getting our students into school safely...we are all in this together to create the best experiences and future for the children in our community.

Please have a safe and wonderful holiday. Thank you for being a part of the EPSD Community. Here’s to a bright, healthy and happy New Year.