By Randi Pierce
Archuleta School District (ASD) announced Monday that it will begin the upcoming school year on Sept. 8 under a hybrid/blended option that will see students learning in person some days and remotely the rest.
In a Monday letter to district staff and families, ASD Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc-Esparza outlined that students will attend school for in-person learning two days per week and will learn remotely three days per week.
“We fully expect that we will need to transition in and out of the various models of instruction throughout the year, depending upon the health conditions and potential cases of COVID that could arise,” the letter states. “However, based on the number of cases we have in our community, the Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance and the overwhelming belief of our families and our staff that it is in our students’ best interest to return to school, we will begin our school year on September 8 utilizing our Hybrid/Blended Learning model.”
Under the hybrid/blended learning model, students will be grouped into two cohort groups, groups A and B, a press release from the district explains.
Group A (last names A-L) will attend school in person Monday and Tuesday and complete at-home remote learning Wednesday through Friday.
Group B (last names M-Z) will attend in-person school on Wednesday and Thursday and complete at-home remote learning Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
“We will ensure that students from the same families, regardless of last name, will stay together,” LeBlanc-Esparza’s letter states.
ASD also created a Web page about what the in-person and online days would look like for each school and what guidance is in place. That resource is available at: https://www.mypagosaschools.com/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=1806966&type=d&pREC_ID=1985341.
“I assure you that no part of this decision was taken lightly and we commit to doing all we can to provide the necessary resources, tools and systems to support safe environments for students and staff,” the letter states. “We will also continue to communicate openly with staff about what they feel they need to do their jobs successfully.
Following the announcement to the district’s families and staff, LeBlanc-Esparza reported to The SUN that the district had received pretty balanced feedback, with some wishing the district had opted for fully online, others being happy with the district’s decision and others criticizing the district for not returning to full-time in-person education.
“I really haven’t seen it swing in one way or another, it has been pretty evenly distributed in all three areas. This also reinforces our survey data,” she wrote in an email.
Regardless what model ASD schools are using for educating students, families can choose a 100 percent online education model and remain part of the district.
The letter outlines that ASD will work with families who desire for their students to learn fully online through a partnership with Colorado Digital Learning Solutions (CDLS).
CDLS, LeBlanc-Esparza previously stated, is partnering with 160 of the state’s 178 school districts to provide a fully online option.
CDLS, she explained, has K-12 availability, includes AP course options at the secondary level and is broken into semesters.
LeBlanc-Esparza reported to The SUN Tuesday that ASD students are registering for the online option, and ASD is watching to see how many.
“Our survey data indicated that about 15 percent would choose online, so we are watching to see if that bears out in the registration numbers,” she wrote, adding that CDLS is working to hire more teachers to meet demand across the state.
More information on the district’s reopening plan, including the various models of education, what school days will look like for each school, health and safety, frequently asked questions and more, visit www.mypagosaschools.com.