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Superintendent Update

With 1st semester (and 2020) now in the rearview mirror, we begin to look forward to a new semester and year. 2020 will always stand out as one of the most unforgettable, trying, and in many ways, unfortunate years of our lives. I’m sure many join me in gladly waving 2020 goodbye, however, we all realize a simple change in the calendar year will not instantly allow us to return to our normal, pre-COVID lives. The pandemic and its effects will continue to linger for months, if not years. While we are certainly “not out of the woods yet”, I am excited to hit the reset button and welcome in 2021.
From the school perspective, we had a great 1st semester, given the unique circumstances. Unlike many of our counterparts across the state and nation, we were largely able to conduct our education in-person - as our elementary students were remote just 10 of the 80 instructional days (12%), and our JH/HS students forced to remote learning for just 19% (15/80 days) of 1st semester. I think everyone was very curious as to how our students would perform academically and bounce back from the ‘COVID slide’ they undoubtably experienced last Spring. While mid-year data is still being gathered and analyzed, early indications suggest our students first semester growth is some of the best we have seen in years. Clearly, our students and staff are a resilient bunch.
While looking at the semester ahead, I believe there is reason for optimism. Just days ago, Governor Polis and a team of public health experts, school leaders, educators, and parents released their “Roadmap to In-Person Learning” Report. This comprehensive report collected a wide range of data points from across the state over the past 9 months. Ultimately, Governor Polis stated, “The best investment we can make in the future of our state is in our children and their education. Getting all students back to safe and consistent in-person learning is critical to our future.” In an effort to summarize some of the key points of the report:
Remote/Hybrid Learning is not equivalent to in-person education. Statewide data suggests students learn just 50-70% as much in remote learning as they would in person. Additionally, there are unintended con-sequences of remote learning such as students social-emotional needs not being met and the resulting consequences of this, such as feelings of isolation, depression, and unhealthy lifestyles in general. Not to speak of societal-level impacts such as disrupting parent-work schedules and the economic snowball effect this creates.
Schools are some of the safest and lowest-risk environments. Schools are a regulated and controlled environment, with safety measures and protocols in place. Although a zero-risk environment does not exist, including schools, the report finds, “The risk level of in-person learning is relatively low. Research has shown the COVID-19 is less likely to infect children, and they are less likely to spread the virus.”
Schools need to return to as much normalcy and in-person learning as possible the upcoming semester and beyond. It is clear, and supported by data, students need to be in school and doing their normal, school-related activities to the maximum extent safely possible.
I appreciate everyone’s patience and flexibility as we collectively navigate these unprecedented times. I wish you a very Merry Christmas with family, and a safe, healthy, and normal(ish) 2021!
Submitted by Myles Johnson, Superintendent

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