By Randi Pierce
The Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors approved the school’s re-entry plan Monday, with that plan outlining in-person and online education options for the upcoming school year.
The board approved the six-page plan unanimously during its regular meeting Tuesday.
“PPOS aims to provide a mission-driven quality education for our students at all times. We recognize that we may need to close in-person instruction for a variety of reasons including weather, natural hazards (wildfire) or for health concerns. The safety of our students and staff are at the heart of our decision making,” the plan’s first section states. “When the need arises we will institute the distance learning plan to keep them safe. It is important to us as well that this distance learning plan helps to promote equity and remove barriers to education for as many of our students as possible. In distance learning, we strive to hold onto our model of inquiry, [project-based learning], and place-based education to engage our students in reaching their full potential. In addition, we acknowledge this is a fluid situation and we would like to be prepared for multiple situations considering all of the different aspects. We also acknowledged that each family has different comfort levels with situations and we strive to provide a option [sic] for each family to be part of our community in a manner they are comfortable with.”
The document lists several goals for the upcoming school year:
“• Maximize in-person learning in as safe and healthy a way as possible.
“• Ensure a reasonable level of safety for students and staff for in-person learning.
“• Minimize disruptions to education by facilitating timely responses to COVID-19 through cohorting students and staff when possible, screening for symptomatic individuals, following recommended guidance, and coordinating closely with local and state public health agencies.
“• Ensure equity in educational opportunity by considering learning and health needs of all students, including those with varying health conditions, economic backgrounds, language skills, or educational needs.
“• Providing families choice that allows for a quality education within their level of comfort related to COVID-19.”
The plan then outlines the two options in the school’s “Road Map to Re-opening Fall 2020,” which include in-person learning with planning for closures and a full distance-learning option.
The document explains the rationale for the in-person option, as well as the staffing plan, mitigation practices, other considerations and plans for different lengths of possible closures, from 24 hours to a week or longer.
The document also outlines the reasons for using distance learning, academic procedures related to that option, technology and the basic distance-learning schedule.
In discussing the re-entry plan Monday, PPOS board member Bill Hudson asked about assigning each student a tablet, which could cut down on sanitizing costs, with School Director Angela Reali Crossland explaining that PPOS doesn’t have enough for each student, but had enough for every student who needed one when the school went to distance learning in the spring.
She noted that they are about $300 each with licensing and the school could get more using federal CARES Act funding within about a week if needed.
Hudson also expressed hesitancy given the death rate in Colorado and cases in surrounding areas, suggesting as many students should do the distance option as possible, and asked his fellow board members if the school should encourage families to do one option over the other if they’re on the fence.
Multiple board members suggested that decision is up to the parents, with Reali Crossland suggesting that all of the staff’s concerns and medical concerns could be addressed.
“I really love the plan, personally,” said board president Ursala Hudson, noting she is as excited as she can be for a plan like this.
Bill Hudson moved to approve the plan, with Mark Weiler seconding and the board approving it unanimously.
Reali Crossland noted during the meeting that parents will be given until Aug. 8 to commit to online or in-person learning for the upcoming school year, and that choice will stay in place until Thanksgiving.
For more information about the school’s plan, visit www.pagosapeakopenschool.org.