Dear Estes Park School District Community:
It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing that Estes Park Schools will suspend In-Person learning for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. I know many families have been expecting this news, but to finalize it has been a very hard decision and one that I do not take lightly.
I understand that this announcement is a loss of our hope to return to "normalcy" and we will all experience grief and sadness. Our students' connections, experiences and dreams have been placed on hold and their lives have been severely disrupted. It is just hard!
The safety and health of our students, staff, and community depend on these difficult decisions to reduce the impact of the Coronavirus and will save lives and hopefully shorten the intensity and duration of the peak of the infection. We currently have 140 cases in Larimer County and the health department is no longer using cases as measurement, but by measuring hospital beds available.
Modeling suggests that the next 3-4 weeks are critical and I encourage everyone to keep practicing distancing, adhering to the stay-at-home orders, and now, please, wear a mask if you have to go out. It is certainly not my intent to scare anyone, but suspending in-person school is not being done as an "abundance" of caution, it is the official recommendation of the Larimer County Health department.
"Larimer County is recommending school districts close for in-person learning through the end of the year," said Larimer County Public Health Director Tom Gonzales in a communication. “All of us want our students to go back to school, including me, but we have to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and that means keeping students out of schools.”
With that being said, school is not canceled, only in-person learning cannot resume as we move forward. We will continue with on-line and remote learning opportunities that are currently being provided at the school level. Information on our Cloud School program was recently distributed by our schools following Spring Break and we will continue to drive instruction and support learning from home in every way possible.
I am asking for direction from the health department on procedures for getting our student’s supplies and books that they may need before the end of the year and what that may look like, if possible. I know there will be plenty of questions and many things to work through with this new extended closure. I will continue to work with administration, teachers and the Board of Education on doing what is best for our district moving forward.
I am thankful for the Estes Park School Board in supporting these tough decisions during this difficult time. This includes my recommendation to continue to pay all staff (Classified and Certified) throughout the remainder of the year so we can continue to support your families, our students and maintain our facilities in a safe and meaningful way.
I appreciate the support from our families, and the hard work our students are putting in. We will rise and meet the challenges of this pandemic and I am sure we will come out stronger and better connected at the end.
With Gratitude and Appreciation,