Letter to Gunnison Watershed School District

Letter to Gunnison Watershed School District 

We miss our students! It’s been quite a journey since COVID-19 made its way to the Gunnison Valley and it looks like it may still be some time before a vaccine is available. Whatever is yet to come, our commitment to education has not wavered, and partnering with you to find ways to continue your children’s learning and growth is the absolute best way for us to keep moving forward. 

GWSD has been a leader in our community’s response to COVID-19.  Our early and swift move to emergency remote learning on March 12, 2020 helped flatten the curve of the spread of the virus in our valley. Although we cannot eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19 for our students or our staff as we return to school, our community’s commitment to continuing to minimize spread of the virus through common sense public health measures like hand washing, face coverings, physical distancing, and covering coughs and sneezes will enable us to return to school in person.

Having children in school is essential. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (2020) “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The public health risks of continuing wide-scale remote learning are far ranging, including learning deficits, child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, suicidal ideation, food insecurity, and decreased physical activity (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020). 

Utilizing recent developments in COVID-19 research, Gunnison Watershed School District is committed to opening school this fall in a safe and responsible way. In accordance with the data-driven Gunnison County Public Health Orders and Coronameter, we will determine the best location for learning: 100% brick and mortar, hybrid, or 100% remote:

Gunnison County Coronameter Risk Level

GWSD Locations for School-Based Blended Learning

Green: No Threat

100% Brick & Mortar with Risk Reduction Toolkit

Blue: Cautious Normal

100% Brick & Mortar with Risk Reduction Toolkit

Yellow: Community Concern

100% Brick & Mortar with Risk Reduction Toolkit

Orange: On the Cliff

Hybrid with Risk Reduction Toolkit

Red: Severe

100% Remote

Through lessons learned from our emergency remote learning experience, feedback from students and families, and the collaborative work of the GWSD COVID-19 Task Force, we have identified priorities and goals that are driving our planning processes and decisions about how school will look this year.

For our students and staff, our priorities are:

  1. Protect physical health and safety.

  2. Promote social-emotional health.

  3. Foster our students’ academic growth and achievement.

We will make decisions using these goals:

  1. Maximize in-person education.

  2. Reduce the risks of transmission of COVID-19.

  3. Collaborate with local and state public health departments.

  4. Take actions to improve equity in access to education. 

  5. Empower students and staff to make sound decisions based on principles guided by science.

Together, we’ve got this. 

Take good care - 

Leslie Nichols, Ed.D.

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