As you have likely heard, Thompson School District will welcome students back to in-person learning in a staggered fashion beginning this Monday, Sept. 28. This is an important step for many of our families and we are excited to see our students in the buildings again as we move through the process over the next few weeks.
Our current pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our students, our families and our staff. As a community, we have sacrificed and we have adjusted our daily lives. Since March, our students have not been in school for in-person instruction. I know the collective toll this has taken on our students, our staff and our community has been extraordinary. And, while I wish I could say that things will start to get back to normal soon, this is simply not the case. The pandemic will continue, at least for the foreseeable future, and we must continue to be agile and adaptable.
Please know that as a school district, we will continue to partner with our families to persevere and serve our students. For us, there is nothing more important. To that end, I want to take a moment to share with you our plan to return our students to an in-person learning structure.
First, please understand that this decision was carefully considered and was made after much deliberation and planning. When we decided earlier this summer to follow the guidance of our local health officials and delay our return to in-person instruction, we knew it would have a heavy impact on our families. Likewise, we knew it was important to our families that students return to in-person learning as soon as possible. We believe that doing so in a staggered fashion will allow our students to acclimate smoothly in an environment that will look and feel different to them when they arrive.
Our school staff and Operations team have worked hard to prepare our buildings in the best manner possible — setting up classrooms, designing programs, establishing enhanced safety and health protocols and more — all to help ensure the safety of our students and staff. Once our staggered return to in-person learning is complete, our elementary students will be attending school in our buildings five-days a week. For our middle and high school families, a hybrid system consisting of two days each week in school and three days of remote learning will help us to provide a safer physical environment in our buildings, while also allowing for valuable in-person time for students.
As excited as we are that students are returning to our buildings, we are also mindful that the pandemic is still with us. We have taken many steps to mitigate risks to help keep everyone safe. But it will take all of us — working together as a team — to make the biggest difference possible. All of our health and safety guidelines that we follow will meet or exceed the recommendations called for by the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Education. These safety guidelines include, but are not limited to, social distancing of our students within our buildings and on our campuses, mask-wearing requirements for all students and staff, enhanced air filtration systems in all of our buildings and strict cleaning and disinfection protocols.
We will need to continue to be adaptive and agile. This pandemic does not follow a traditional calendar, nor does it adhere to conventional planning or timelines. We must be flexible. While we will always put forward our very best efforts to ensure that health and safety guidelines are followed and adhered to, please know that we will continue to have difficult days and months ahead. You have our commitment that we will remain focused on providing quality educational programming with the uncompromising commitment to focus on each of our students and their needs.
Above all, thank you so much for your support, continued patience and for guiding us with your thoughts and suggestions. We still have many challenges facing us as we move forward, yet I am confident we will emerge on the other side better and stronger than ever before.
Dr. Marc Schaffer is superintendent of the Thompson School District.
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