Dear ACSD#1 Families:

We continue to work at a rapid pace to meet our desire to reopen schools on August 26, 2020.  This has been a busy week, and this communication highlights what we know and a few things that you can expect in the next couple of weeks.

Board Approved Reopening Start Plan for A/B Days for LMS and LHS

Our current plan is to start school on August 26, 2020 for a half day.  We will open all elementary schools, all rural schools, Rock River, UW Lab School, and Whiting High School as Tier I (five days a week of in-person instruction).  The board approved the reopening of Laramie Middle School and Laramie High School in Tier II (hybrid model) starting August 26, 2020.  The middle school and the high school will operate an alternating schedule (A/B Days), so we can reduce the number of students in the school buildings in order to meet social distancing guidelines established in the current state health order. The school district in consultation with the county health officer has established a threshold for 17 students per classroom in order to meet social distancing guidelines.

Students at Laramie Middle School and Laramie High School will be assigned to one of two cohorts of students.  The students who are assigned to cohort “A” will attend school in-person for two days a week, and they will work remotely through the Classroom Based Virtual Instruction Model for another three days a week.  The students in cohort “B” will attend in-person on the opposite days. Fridays will be reserved for specific cohorts of students who need additional assistance or for teachers to schedule labs or extended work time on projects (for example shop classes or AP classes). Students will also be able to complete weekly assignments remotely on Fridays.

As the schools work through the alternating day assignments, we understand that there may be families who have a significant hardship due to the alternating day schedule.  Please communicate your need with your child’s school.  The school district would not choose to operate an alternating A/B schedule unless the schedule provides our community with the safest path forward in this unprecedented time.

Laramie Middle and Laramie High Schools have already worked through assigning siblings to similar days to help families align schedules.  All schools will communicate with parents this week about schedules, start times, and expectations for in-person learning.

Classroom Based Virtual Instruction—Final Selection is Monday, August 24, 2020

We received over 3,200 responses to the preference survey indicating a choice of in-person learning or classroom based virtual instruction.  Parents indicated that 484 students (16%) would prefer to learn remotely with Classroom Based Virtual Instruction to start the year, and 2,394 (81%) indicated they preferred in-person learning.  85 parents (3%) expressed that they would prefer some other option for their children.

The preference survey was only an interest survey for planning and safety considerations, and there is time during this week to finalize your registration. We realize that people may change their decision given the continued uncertainty of COVID-19. To assist with your final decision, we posted additional information about Classroom Based Virtual Instruction on our website under the Frequently Asked Questions.

Parents and students who select in-person learning must adhere to the safety and health guidelines established by the county health officer and the school board.  These guidelines include completing a daily prescreening checklist, maintaining social distancing standards, wearing face coverings, and washing hands frequently.

Once the student and parent have made a final choice, we ask that parents and students commit to the choice through the first quarter. Parents and students must make a final decision by Monday, August 24, 2020 in order for the school district to ensure that all classes meet the social distancing requirements and provide the safest environment we can for students and teachers.

Power School Registration and Portal Features

The district will use the Power School Parent Portal to complete registration for this year.  It is vitally important that parents update address, phone, and email contact information in Power School prior to August 24, 2020, so that we can ensure the health and safety of all students.  The updated Power School registration link will be available starting Tuesday, August 18, 2020. There are some new features, so please access the Parent Portal and update your child’s information.  Please contact your child’s school if you have difficulty accessing the Power School Parent Portal.

The school district will use the Power School Parent Portal to record the distribution of Chromebooks for every student which also includes an acknowledgement of the Chromebook usage agreement. The portal will also be used for the required daily prescreening health checks, and parents will verify in Power School that their child will adhere to in-person learning health guidelines if they are attending school in-person.  The daily health checks will ask you if your child is showing symptoms related to COVID-19 or if your child has been potentially exposed to COVID-19. In either case, we ask that you keep your child home. These daily prescreening health checks will be a tangible reminder to put your child’s health and safety above all other considerations.

Transportation

The information collected on the preference survey also assisted the transportation department with plans to safely transport students to school.  The health guidelines for bus transportation continue to change, but the school district is presently working from the directive that social distancing and face coverings will be implemented on district buses, so the capacity of typical bus routes has decreased dramatically.  If you can transport your child to school that will be helpful as we adjust final plans this week, but please communicate with the transportation department if your child needs to be transported to school and you live in an area that meets state transportation eligibility guidelines.

Health and Safety Primary Importance

We know that there is still a great deal of uncertainty around COVID-19, but we believe that we are reopening in the safest manner we can to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19.  The summer school program operated successfully by adhering to social distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings, and implementing hand washing procedures. We believe that the guidance from the county health officer provides us the means to not only reopen schools successfully, but also mitigate the spread of COVID-19, so that schools can remain open for the entire school year.

The school board will review the status of Tier 1 (in-person at the elementary level) and Tier II (hybrid learning at the secondary level) frequently during the initial 14 days of the school year.  Events change rapidly, so the school district is poised to adapt to an online remote learning model if necessary.  If the mitigation strategies (social distancing, face coverings, hand hygiene, ventilation, and sanitation) are successful, and the state health orders relax to permit more students in a classroom and the school building, then the school board can make decisions to move secondary students to Tier I (full five day in-person learning).

Summary

The health and safety of our students and staff is the primary importance for reopening schools.  Please make a final decision regarding your choice of instructional model for the start of the year.  We need to know by Monday, August 24, 2020 whether your child is attending in-person or choosing Classroom Based Virtual Learning.

Secondly, we need you to access and update information in the Power School Parent Portal, so we can distribute a Chromebook to your child, and attain the required assurances from you regarding Chromebooks and In-Person Learning. The Power School Registration form will be available on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

Finally, please let us know if we can provide clarification or assistance.  You can contact your child’s school or you can reach the school district by emailing us at info@acsd1.org.

Sincerely,

Jubal C. Yennie