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

Thompson Schools to begin school year online

By: Dan Karpiel | Surveyor | August 14, 2020 | Education

As earlier reported by the Surveyor, the Thompson School District (TSD) announced the delay of in-person until “at least Oct. 16.” Students will still be presented with two options – either fully online or in-person that will begin online – with the hope that students opting for in-person will be able to learn in-person following the Oct. 16 date.

The reason for the abrupt change, according to TSD officials, was the result of a delay in COVID-19 testing, with many tests backlogged that make contact tracing, a key component for the in-person model to work successfully, difficult if not impossible.

The decision was made in consultation with the Larimer County Health Department, led by Tom Gonzalez. At the meeting, county health officials told the board the return on results is averaging 10 days and that, as of last Wednesday, 11 child care facilities or classrooms in the county have already had to close in the last week. Officials stressed the importance of frequent hand-washing, disinfecting of surfaces, wearing face-coverings and maintaining social distancing is key to preventing further spread of COVID-19.

TSD leadership, including Superintendent Dr. Marc Schaffer and Chief Academic Officer Dawne Huckaby, briefed the Board of Education at last Wednesday’s in-person meeting about the changes, which will now include two different curricula. Huckaby was adamant that, while the two curricula will be different, both represent marked upgrades over the virtual programs used last spring.

Huckaby said that the virtual instruction offered by the district to students who opt for fully-online as well as those who chose the in-person (that begins online) will be rigorous with attendance and grading requirements fully on-par with traditional, pre-pandemic education. Instruction in both models will occur every day of the school year calendar.

Both the fully online and in-person with online to start will be taught entirely by TSD teachers. However, teachers will not simultaneously teach students in both models; some will teach the fully-online students and the others will teach students enrolled in the in-person with online to start model.

The online-to-start model will have students grouped with other students from the same school while the fully online model will group students from across all district schools together, which was the same plan before the change was made last week. For the fully online model, elementary schools will use the Florida Virtual Schools platform while middle and high school students will use FuelEducation which is also the same plan set forth before adjustment.

For the students who opt for in-person but begin the year virtually, they will have regular, daily contact with their teachers, complete group work as well as independent study. Board members and TSD officials stressed the importance of keeping these students together with a district-specific curriculum for when the transition is (hopefully) made to allow students to return to the classroom. Students in this model will use the Google Classroom platform as well as other tools, according to the presentation made by district officials.

The next meeting of the TSD Board of Education will occur on Aug. 19.

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