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Gilpin students to start in-school classes on September 15th

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School Board Meeting

By Esmee Halsted

On the September 1st board meeting, the board decided to make the hard decision: should Gilpin students go back to school? First, they spoke to celebration and congratulations. Then the board heard public comments, until finally, the board made the decision of whether to go back to school.

Principal Alexis Donaldson began by recognizing the parents, students, and teachers for their participation in online learning. She also recognized teacher, Coach Ball, for setting up the Back to School page on the Gilpin Website. The Back to School page has helped students navigate online learning. With that positive note, the board moved on to a more serious discussion.

During public comments the board heard from two concerned parents. The concerned mother, shared concerns over her daughter’s IEP. She also shared how hard it was to switch between being a mother and a teacher. Lastly, she expressed concern for students’ mental health. Her husband, a bus driver in Douglas County, shared how well in-person learning is going in Douglas County.

After going over new business, the board began the decision of virtual vs in-person learning by hearing survey results. As Superintendent David MacKenzie explained, 64% of parents would send their children back, 29% of students would not send their students back, and 7% of students would stay on Gilpin Online programs. As for the staff survey, 52% of teachers prefer to stay in 100 percent remote learning, 30% prefer to see different students for one day a week for a total of three days a week, 94% prefer to go back three days a week, and 86% of staff prefer to go back four days a week. Looking at class sizes, all grades will have less students, however, elementary schools will have smaller class sizes compared to high school. With that information in mind, the board members began discussion around this hard decision.

To start, board member Sarah Swanson expressed her concern for the teachers. She was concerned about the teachers balancing remote learning and in person learning. Later on she suggested a 3-day school plan, with one day online for everyone to give teachers a remote day to catch up.

Tracy Krug, who teaches in JeffCo, guided the discussion by sharing what her school was doing. Concerned about mental health, she wanted students to go back. “I am very concerned with the suicide rates across the country. I think we really need to consider that mental health part of it.”

Board member Joe Marr wants students back in school as soon possible. “I think that we’ve created a big gap, but we can make it up. I think we need to get kids back together. “

Without any solid policy for in-person learning in place, the Board struggled to make a decision. In the end, they all agreed that students needed to be back in the classroom. They left the how of that decision to Superintendent MacKenzie. Whatever start-up plans were created, they decided that students would attend school in-person starting on September 15th.

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