Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Thompson School District returning to virtual learning

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | November 13, 2020 | Education

Effective Monday, November 23, Thompson School District will transition all in-person learning throughout the district to a remote-only model until (at least) Tuesday, January 5.  

Schools will be communicating additional details to families in the district regarding the transition next week.

 

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On Friday morning, the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education held a special meeting to address concerns resulting from rising COVID-19 case counts in the district, county and state.

TSD Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer and Chief Operations Officer Todd Piccone presented the board with data regarding rising case numbers in recent weeks that have affected students and staff across the district’s schools. Schaffer and Piccone approached the board suggesting that the district return to fully remote learning no later than Nov. 23. The board did not hold a formal vote on the decision.

Piccone’s presentation stated, “the percent positivity of tests confirms that this rise in detected cases is not simply due to greater test availability, but reflects an ongoing, dramatic surge in COVID-19 rates in our state and community (and that a) return in-person when leading indicators are at a safer level.”

Schaffer said that the TSD will announce the plans for school following Christmas break Dec. 18.

“No one wants the kids in school as much as I do … but it’s a Thompson School District issue,” Schaffer said. “We’re dealing with, I’ll call it a crisis situation we’re trying to make decisions in real-time based on data … since COVID began last March we’ve always gone before the board to seek information.”

Schaffer remarked that neighboring school districts in surrounding communities have made similar decisions in recent days, “We are approaching a critical time … this is the direction we’re going,” Schaffer said. He further mentioned that the district will like to leave schools open next week, prior to the Thanksgiving break slated for Nov. 25-27, but that should numbers continue to spike, the district won’t hesitate to close individual schools or even the district as a whole at any point on or after Monday, Nov. 16.

“Each and every trend is going the wrong direction, this pandemic is a crisis and we were worried this would come back around and hit again I would like to see the board give the district, the staff the full support … to return to fully remote,” said Vice President Pam Howard.

Stu Boyd, Berthoud’s representative on the board, said, “I think the fact that Greeley has made this decision tells us a lot about the state of the pandemic in northern Colorado, I’m certainly in favor of making a decision today to give staff as much time as possible.” Boyd said he spoke with some Berthoud parents Friday morning who implored him to keep schools open, citing how being kept away from in-person school has had significant, adverse impacts on children from a mental and emotional standpoint.

Lastly, the board began discussing how allowing some extra-curricular activities to continue while students are learning virtually made no sense. Board President Lori Hvizda Ward said it was “reprehensible” that football would be allowed to continue, due the variance granted for sports by Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, but students cannot attend class in person. Howard agreed with the sentiments expressed by Hvizda Ward, saying that allowing football to continue is “appalling.”

Board member Paul Banks questioned whether the TSD can vote to suspend sports and other extra-curricular activities and, in effect, over-ride the variance; Schaffer answered in the affirmative. The board will decide on whether to allow extra-curricular activities, including football, at the regular meeting this Wednesday, Nov. 18.

The Surveyor will update this story as further information becomes available.

 

 

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