SVVSD Board Meeting 7-22-2020-converted
2:14AM Aug 12, 2020
Okay, great. So thank you.
Good evening and welcome to the St. vrain. Valley School District's Board of Education meeting. Thank you for joining us this evening. Barb before we call the roll, I do want to make an announcement that we apologize that Longmont public media may be experiencing technical difficulty difficulties with their streaming of tonight's Board of Education meeting. We thank you for your patience as we shared out a new link to our community ahead of the meeting. And Carrie, just to clarify, where can people access that link?
Okay. Okay, fantastic.
So the Twitter feed. Thank you. That's wonderful. Carrie, thank you for coming to the rescue and rerouting that. And as usual, there will be a recording on the district website tomorrow morning of the meeting as well. Well, Barb, it's nice to see you. Can you now call for the roll please?
Mr. Aaron's present.
Mr. Burkle. Mr. Garcia
here, Dr. martyr present.
This Pierce. This is Ragland here and the secrets
here. Thank you, Barb. We do have some very important guests here this evening and and prior to introducing all of you, we have just a few housekeeping items to take care of. We do have a public common comment portion of our meeting that we need to address. We did receive several public comments this past week. And so what we've decided to do in Are we good wood? Sure, absolutely, we can. First we're going to go ahead and say the Pledge of Allegiance if everyone can join me
The United States of America
stands, one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thanks, Don. I got a little distracted by wanting to ensure that the streaming was taking place. So thank you again. public comment. We had several public comments and all board members have been provided with those public comments as well as Dr. had had. we've all read each one of them. In the interest of time this evening, though, because we do want to spend the bulk of our time speaking with our guests and the experts in the audience and about our return to school plan. We went through those comments, the vast majority of them were questions. We believe all of those questions fell into categories that wanted to address questions surrounding the science, the epidemiology, and the evidence behind our decision plan. That we'll be answering. This evening, people want to also know about our mitigation and intervention practices, which will be answered at this meeting this evening. There were also a few HR and personnel questions contained in there. And what we've done is we've gone through and removed all the questions, and then Paula will be reading 10 minutes of public comment. At that point, we will stop. All of the public comments that were submitted, though, are part of the permanent board record in our minutes. So if anybody desires to go back and look at them, they absolutely can. Paula.
Yes, thank you, Joey. I will start a timer here. The Can you hear me okay? Yes, ma'am. Okay, the first comment comes from Rio Penman in Erie, who states can you please consider the parents that have children in multiple grades at multiple schools. The suggested schedule for elementary being full time yet Middle School. is part time and high school has a completely different part time schedule, making it impossible for parents to find childcare, or make any sort of work schedule to provide for their family. We already have to deal with the ridiculous amount of time between each school starting and ending, but nowadays, changing weekly makes it ridiculous. The second comment is from Laura Lee h at 1242 Jetson I suggest the reopening of school should be delayed until we can determine the effectiveness of mandatory masking and the cessation of out of state visitors rushing reopening before while infection rates are climbing rather than leveling runs the risk of throwing us back into a complete shutdown. medical information coming out of Texas and Florida suggests younger people are now at risk with the added risk of organ and intellectual long term impairment. During an interview on, I believe NPR, Dr. fiesch remarks, this is a virus that doesn't behave in a manner that is seen another virus. With that in mind, well, it seems younger are not susceptible. We cannot have assurance. What will the outcome of putting them in a classroom without social distancing primary kids just don't social distance. That being said, think of this stuff the teachers and the worry they will have about not only their health, but what they may be taking home to their loved ones. The third comment comes from Linda bid like, forgive me if I'm mispronouncing any names from Central elementary school, to the school board of St. Green Valley regarding reopening the schools. The criteria for reopening keep changing. In Colorado, our health departments and Department of Education have set different standards from CDCs. And this was made even more clear this week. The original guides line from CDC was that reopening could begin in a phased process when the numbers of new cases declined for 14 days, and CDC laid out specific safety precautions for when reopening began. In Colorado, those numbers declined, but have now been rising steadily since mid June. According to this, we should not be reopening in the school should be continuing online learning. In addition, the current plans do not strictly follow CDC safety precautions. One of those is social distancing, it is simply not possible to maintain six feet of distance in a regular full classroom. The loosening of criteria has been justified by studies that children are less affected by the COVID-19 virus. But there is variation and contradictions in these studies. And they are not yet conclusive. In short, we just don't know. It is because of these changing numbers and criteria that many educators do not believe that it is safe to return to in person learning yet. I want the board to know just how unsafe teachers feel. here and across the country teachers are writing our wells and checking our life insurance. Some are trying to find alternative places to live, so we don't bring the virus home to our families. I do hope this is not okay with you. I also want to speak as a mental health specialist. One argument is that children need to return to school for their social and emotional well being. I believe that the opposite may be true. It may be traumatizing to children to want to play with their friends and make new friends but not be allowed to be close to them. Imagine them on a playground, each allowed to play by themselves with their own ball. parenthetically, one suggestion that has been proposed. They would not be able to share books or sit in a group on the floor to hear a story. The necessary behavioral restrictions are not inappropriate, and they would set the children up for frequent corrections and feeling of failure and shame. They would be reminded continually of an unsafe situation when they are afraid or sad. The teachers would not be able to comfort them with appropriate touch. This is not necessarily better than being at home or learning the small neighborhood group. Thanks for your attention and your thoughtful consideration of all alternatives.
The next comments is from Diane Berthold at 2143 Spencer street in Longmont. So Superintendent Haddad and our esteemed Board of Education. Thank you for your time today, we are all acutely aware of the challenges you face to adhere to state and local health regulations and the varied and important wishes of parents. We appreciate that you have offered an online learning protocol for all families that choose not to send their children to school during these unprecedented times. This truly allows our families to make their own informed decisions about the risks they perceive with this virus. My family is concerned with the mandate that all children PK through 12 will be required to wear masks throughout their day with breaks for elementary children. We know from multiple international studies done that children largely do not contract or spread the virus to adults. According to studies done to China and Switzerland only five to 8% of outbreaks within families start with the child. The CDC reports that less than 2% of total positive covid cases in the US are in children's studies done on schools reopening in multiple countries show that schools have very rare incidents of being the source for outbreaks. I've emailed each of you the links to these studies, and many more, I'm confident that you will take this objective science into consideration when developing your final plan. Furthermore, Boulder Boulder County Health has stated that masks for children under 12 are ineffective at controlling the spread because they are not able to wear masks properly for long periods of time. This is not to mention that mess are inherently dangerous for children due to increased co2 absorption And recirculation of bacteria and viruses that the body is meant to expel. This can cause more extreme symptoms should children contract the virus and have to re breathe it throughout their days, increasing their viral load and the danger to at risk family members. My question is if the board has looked into site psychosocial implications of mastering and social distancing on childhood development, what are the unintended consequences of forcing children who naturally interact as a means of learning and who desperately need to learn facial cues for proper communication and emotional intelligence to be separated and have their faces covered? What does this mean for our kids who depend on svv SD to enhance their responsible academic and emotional growth and development? We are not raising children in a bubble and it would be extremely short sighted to not consider the long term psychological impact of these protocols on the future adults have long ma We look forward to your response. Thank you again. For all your effort and for your time
and the Next comment
is from Kim and Adam Francis from 166. to Holland way, members of the board, we are writing to express our extreme discomfort with commencing in person learning during the current health crisis. Please address the following points in your response. At this juncture, it seems imprudent, dangerous and unethical to enlist our students and staff in a grand experiment to determine the safety of returning to school. While it has been widely reported that children are less susceptible to the virus, Florida has recently noted a greater than 30% positive test rate among children. With no too mild symptoms, many of these covid positive children would likely not be kept home. Further, a recent large scale study published on the CDC website indicates that children ages 10 to 19 are no less likely to spread the virus than adults. One her Jeffrey Sherman Columbia University epidemiologist, quote, putting students together in schools having them mixed with teachers and other students will provide additional opportunities for the virus to move from person to person and point to current understanding indicates transmission occurs best through intended exposure, extended exposure in enclosed spaces. In fact, the risk of spread is 19 times greater indoors than out. Point three classrooms are ideal loci for virus transmission. Our household includes a fifth grader, an eighth grader and a high school teacher. Collectively, our family will be directly exposed to more than 200 people per week, and indirectly in contact with more than 2000. Even with the proposed cohorting at the middle and high levels, individuals students will be sharing space with space with 70 to 80 people per den during their classes. In the event that a student becomes ill contact tracing and quarantining will be nearly impossible. We help care for elderly members of Family and cannot in good conscience continue to do so with that level of exposure that will return to normalcy is in everyone's best interest simply returning students to classrooms will not be returned to the quotidian. While we appreciate the district's work towards developing protocols for a safe return, students and staff will be taxed. in implementing and maintaining these standards. younger students will have a very difficult time complying with masking and distancing protocols. While older students will likely be resistant to full compliance. We should learn from experience, we realized that worst case scenario in the spring when impersonal learning was scuttled overnight, an online learning was implemented with limited time to plan for effective instruction. If we begin planning for online instruction from the start, we will not face the same crisis. While some countries have safely reopened schools. China, South Korea and Israel have all had to reverse course after reopening, it bears noting that these countries All reopened schools after community virus spread was significantly more contained than is the case here. And my 10 minute timer is up. I'm, I apologize if I read that quickly. I was just trying to get as far through the comments as I could. And I think I did get through the bulk of it. So there's a little bit to the final comment, but I think as indicated, we're gonna move on with the agenda.
Right. Thank you, Paul. Appreciate it. So the purpose of our meeting this evening is to continue our dialogue surrounding the return to school. The sport of education, super intendant had add everyone in this room certainly continues to prioritize safety for all of the students, staff and family members of the st vrain Valley School District. The goal at the end of this meeting is for the Board of Education to express support for a plan for return to school, one that is informed by local conditions and local experts. Not any political agenda or position. I do want to thank everyone for being here this evening. And I do recognize based on all of the we've received hundreds of public comments and emails through various platforms. I don't expect this evening to come away with a plan that will please 100% of the people who've REACHED OUT out to us. I don't know that there is an absolute perfect plan, but I do believe with certainty that we are going to come up with an excellent safe plan for our return to school. With that, I would like to introduce Steve Villareal, who is the president of the Education Association. Jeff Zack, who is here, Jeff, you are the executive director of Boulder County Public Health. And then Heather crates. And Heather, can you please I apologize. Can you remind me I can't see that. Well, sorry. I wish I could.
I'm serving as The school liaison officer for Boulder County Public Health. Great,
thank you. And then Dr. Urbino. Yes. Welcome. Don, do you want to open the meeting? Or would you like to jump in? With reports from our guests? What what?
What do you think works best?
Yeah, no, I'll definitely share. I've got a report. And then I will turn it over. After that to to Jeff, and we can go from there. Super. First thing I want to do, just remind everybody that we have our graduation ceremonies coming up this Saturday. Very, very proud of our graduating seniors. And of our teachers, you know, even though they're seniors and high school, was their last experience. The graduation is a combination of work that began in preschool and beyond. So it's a it's a tribute to all of our teachers and staff and to our parents and to our administrators. To our community. And there was an outstanding salute to seniors in the times call that I would encourage everybody to read. It's got pictures of our students a wonderful story on the front page, and just could not be more proud of our kids and our teachers and our staff. So I also shifting gears want to acknowledge the challenges that accompany this global pandemic. It's something that obviously none of us have experienced in our lifetime. And it's something that impacts all of us not only here in Longmont and our St. vrain Valley schools and all of the communities within which we serve, but our state, our nation and our world. And to say that it's a complex issue would be an understatement. And so I appreciate and I'm extremely grateful for the the way in which our community has responded. They have reached out in a kind and caring way and they have offered their suggestions they have offered their support they've shared their questions and they've shared their concerns. And we have conducted literally over 200 meet 200 meetings and probably over 250 now. And we have gathered quite a bit of feedback through our websites, through our emails through meetings that we've had with teachers, a ours are our association president, health care professionals, and so many more. It's one of those things where you realize after you read the documents that are submitted to us, you literally move from one opinion to the next. And they're varying and so what we have to do and what we've made a commitment to do ever since my very first communication was to stay closely aligned to the healthcare professionals, and within what the healthcare professionals say to us and how they guide us and how they direct us. We are also very, very, very supportive and interested in providing choices for our families and for others, our staff. So it's a combination of The science, the medicine, the experts that we receive our guidance from, and also working with our families and our teachers and our staff to provide the safest environment and options within those environments. In terms of communication, you know, you mentioned a little bit Joey, we've had about 37,000 users have access to our website 130,000 pageviews, where for Coronavirus plan and information so got quite a bit over 1000 submissions of feedback and questions and comments. And as you can imagine, we've gleaned a lot from them. We've read them all and there are just a wide variety of thoughts and opinions and concerns and questions. But I am absolutely grateful. I've always viewed this community as a team, and everyone's voice matters. And so I would encourage people to feel free to call me directly or to communicate through our other channels when we first started and we got To that June 30 date when I sent out my last communication. In h1, we always talk about this being a pandemic that's going to evolve, and that we have to be ready to pivot. And if you recall, our last plan included all elementary school students attending five days a week, all sixth graders, and then all ninth graders, and seventh and eighth and 10th 11th and 12th would be on a hybrid model. At the time that we communicated that plan and worked with our healthcare partners. That plan seemed to be
the best plan that we could identify at that point in time to address a lot of concerns. We have seen this virus evolve and so we have a new plan that we're going to recommend this evening. But we looked at that current model. We also know that there's a model for full inperson for everyone. We also have a full online model. So any family K through two And actually preschool as well, that decides that in person learning is not the best option for them. We have a comprehensive launch dead online program that is open to any student who chooses it. And it will be taught by St. vrain Valley schools. And it is a Florida Virtual program, but taught by St. vrain Valley schools and it is comprehensive in nature. And it is available and open to any student who chooses it. And in my communication that goes out tomorrow, there will be information in terms of how you register. And so we're we've got that where we are tonight is presenting a hybrid model K through 12, which would do a few things. The first thing that it would do is it would cut class sizes in half across the board. And that reduction in class size would be significant for a variety of reasons, we would be able to socially distance at a very effective level. We would also have fewer kids in the building we would be able to cohort easier. And we would be able to keep kids connected two days and three days a week and then the other days they would be at home. And they have options at home with synchronous learning through our online programs and Jackie Kapoor and Dr. capetian will be sharing a little bit of what that model looks like, at home. So that hybrid model is what we're going to discuss tonight and ask for the board's support and approval. The other thing that I would want you to know is that there are many sources that we have been closely in contact with. Obviously Boulder County Health has been our primary source, the Colorado Department of Public Health, and we were most recently on a comprehensive call with them yesterday getting an update with them along with the Colorado Department of Education. The Metro Denver partnership Metro Denver area partnership for health which includes all of the local and metro areas health department's we've also gleaned quite a bit of information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, the Harvard School of Public Health, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and medicine, in terms of reopening K through 12 schools during the covid 19 pandemic. And one thing is for certain that this information evolves, and we continue to learn more about the virus. And that's why we've made a commitment to stay closely connected to our healthcare experts, and work in partnership with them. I also want you to know that along with the hybrid model, we have a series of things that we would be doing to mitigate risk. And there's never a full 100% guarantee of mitigating and eliminating all risk no matter what the topic is. But we believe that we've put a number of protocols into place which will diminish significantly in terms of protective credit. But we will have masks. The schools have all been provided with gloves. And our specific teachers who are working very closely with some of our students will have face shields and gowns. We've ordered hand sanitizer for all of the schools and the masks, we will be asking families to provide because it's important that a student feels comfortable putting on their own mask and that it's comfortable for them. And then teachers and staff as well, although if somebody has a hardship, acquiring a mask, we would certainly provide one for them. So we have our equipment and we've got a lot in stock. Most of it was purchased with the funds that were provided for us from the federal government in terms of grant money. We also have hired additional custodial staff, which will enable us to provide cleanings during the day and sanitization as well as again At night, and so we'll double up on the cleaning efforts. And we'll be using disinfectant that is approved and assigned and aligned with COVID-19 as well as safe for children and teachers and staff. And so that additional staff will help us immensely in keeping the buildings clean and sanitized. We've also done extensive work with our h vac systems. And I'll just read a little bit about some of the things that we've done with those
reviewed all of our buildings to understand how much fresh air above the ASHRAE standards our building systems can successfully treat while maintaining a comfortable educational space and currently testing our systems to operate at twice the established fresh air standards. replaced all air filters in the district when optimum airflow and our equipment extending air handler runtimes before buildings are occupied each day, manually checking the proper operation of building exhaust fans and in the coming weeks of visual verification that outside air dampers are operating correctly, to ensure that outside air is delivered into the classrooms. In many of our buildings, programming was adjusted to increase outside air positions on all units with just one override to the percentage determined for the best operation. So we can easily increase the outside air flow into a building. And some of the schools have a program feature that controls outside air based on co2 in the space. And a local engineering firm is working to provide the district with the ability to override this programming sequence that allows us to go above the ASHRAE prescribed conditions. And we continue to work on all of these things, but we feel very comfortable with the work that's been done with our h back. We also know that by significantly lowering class sizes, which we've done, and I'll give you an example if you had an average Elementary School Class 25 and there are some that are at 30 and some that are 18. And some, but let's just look at 25. Immediately that class would be cut to 12 or 13. And then from there, we would take the enrollment for our launch debt program and reduce those students even further. So we look to see, you know, eight 910 1112 kids in a in an elementary school classroom. And that not only enables us to socially distance really effectively, but it enables the airflow systems to become even more effective in bringing in fresh air. The other thing that we've done is we've contracted out with Gary community, the Gary family Community Foundation, where our teachers and staff can have access on a voluntary basis to to COVID-19 tests per month, at no cost to our teachers and our staff members. And then there would be a 48 hour turnaround time for the results. And that information would then be shared with us and we could if there were situation with a positive test, we would be able to work with an epidemiologist who has been assigned to the St. vrain Valley School District from Boulder County Public Health, along with three contact tracers. And so they would be able to work with us to guide and direct our next steps around any type of positive test. We also have been working closely with our county health partners on closure protocol, whether it might be a classroom, whether it might be a school or whether it might be the entire district. We're hoping that that does not happen. But protocols will be finalized along with steps to take but in any instance, because each instance would be looked at based on that specific situation. It would be driven by the epidemiologist, Boulder County Health and all of the professionals in terms of giving us guidance on what the next steps would be. Going to stop for just a second and turn it over to Dr. Kapoor. Because in the event and not just in the event, but specifically if we needed to move to remote and blended learning, we have a very strong and comprehensive capacity to do that. And Dr. Kapoor if you would share a little bit of that, along with the professional development that teachers and staff would be receiving and have received, at some level already
Sure. So if at any point in the school year our classrooms or schools have to close and go completely online, our teachers will use their st brain Valley adopted unit plans, the curricular materials that have been boarded adopted as well as the supplemental resources that they're familiar with to deliver instruction through a blended approach. This means that teachers from home would provide live lessons to an entire class on a synchronous schedule. additional equipment has been purchased for every every classroom to enhance the synchronous experience. Through high powered lenses, microphones and standards for the teaching iPads. Additional devices have also been purchased for students if those are needed. We will post assignments and projects through Schoology and seesaw. Our students, our teachers and our parents are all now really familiar with with seesaw and Schoology which are our online platforms. We will provide one to one and small group instruction as well as needed from from a virtual setting. We will be grading assignments and projects using our normal grading systems that are outlined in our board policies. Infinite Campus will be used again from the beginning of the year for teachers to post grades and for parents to monitor student attendance and student progress. And in this scenario, should we have to shut completely down a school or a classroom it may be That teachers could still go to the school and teach from their classrooms so that they have all of their materials close to them. And we may be able to still bring in small groups of students through office hours with teachers so that at least weekly, a student could come in and get some face to face support from their teachers. Overall, this is going to be a much more structured approach than we saw in the spring, where much of the learning was less scheduled, much of the lessons were less scheduled, or asynchronous. And we did that to allow families a lot of flexibility as they were working to manage the new demands that they were faced with at home. So we just we believe that we can offer a fully online program to students temporarily or even long term if our school or district had to go completely online or if class individual classrooms needed to do that. We have an entire plan that's differentiated by levels. By elementary, middle and high school to really do some pretty deep work with our teachers when they come back in August, around the blended approach. So we will show them how to use all of the new equipment. And we will also work with them around best practices related to blended and fully online learning so that they understand developmentally, what makes a lot of sense for students who are in first grade, as well as students who are in 10th or 11th grade. And we have that ready to go. Most of our principals will be trained in that on August 4. And then after that when staff are in for staff professional development days, our principals and learning leaders will work with all of our staff, staff members around blended best practices.
Thank you, and a couple things just to reinforce. We do have an iPad for each and every student so parents would not have to double up with their, their children at home and that would be all the way through our system. And then we want to To ensure that there's full equity of access. And then also I know that we had, I think it was 900 teachers this summer that were engaged in blended learning and training. So they've got a great Head Start. And I think we feel very comfortable with that. Speaking of our teachers, you know, their safety and well being is paramount. I, you know, they're part of this, the priority of their safety is and our students safety is really at, at the heart of everything that we do, to make sure that that they not only feel safe, but that they are, and there are some teachers that will have needs for accommodations based on health issues. And we have worked with the association and we will be accommodating teachers who have pre existing health conditions where they would have an opportunity to be among the online teachers with the Florida Virtual. We also know that we have some teachers who are primary caregivers, and we are committed to doing everything that we can to provide them with that option as well. And then depending on the enrollment of our overall online program, we may be able to go into another tier, if if the numbers allow for that. But I want our teachers to know that this and our classified staff as well that the decision to recommend this and cut classes not only in half, but by more than in half with the enrollment into our Florida Virtual is designed to create optimal social distancing. The masks that would be worn small class sizes, great ventilation systems, all of those designed to ensure to the best of our ability, their health and their safety. I want to share with you just a little bit about what other districts are doing. We had a conversation with our colleagues in the in the metro area, and Jefferson County shared with us today that they would be going To a all in at the elementary level five days a week and a hybrid at the middle and the high school level. We also learned something similar for Brighton. Thompson indicated that they would be going all in and these could all change. But these are as of today that we learned Greeley will be going all in at the elementary level all in at the middle level, and then a hybrid at the high school level. We also know that Douglas County was scheduled to go all in Aurora is scheduled to go all in Littleton is scheduled to go all in when I say all and that means K through 12. We thought about that and decided to be a little more cautious and that's why we're looking to cut those class sizes in half and then reduce them again with the online so that we can have a strong preventative approach and not just a responsive approach.
The other thing that I would share with you is we have set aside approximately $3 million for additional FTP if needed to reduce class sizes because there are certain circumstances where you might see a class jump to 35 kids, and even cutting it in half would be 17. And we would want to do better than that. And so we've got that resource available to us. We will be partnering with our parents, and really, really emphasizing to our parents the importance of screening their children at home. We talked to the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Public Health officials yesterday. And they strongly encouraged us to have that temperature check done at home prior to the student coming to school, and then also visual checks when they get here. And so we're going to be talking about that we have purchased a number of thermometers for each school, a number of those thermal thermometers, and we will be distributing a number of those to the schools prior to the start of the school year. We also have in my communication that will come out tomorrow, a series of protests Calls health procedures for parents and students but also for teachers and staff. And so I would encourage everybody to look at that along with our safe with seven campaign. We have daycare available that will be available at 12 sites for our teachers and for parents who need that facility to support daycare during the day. And that information will also be in my communication tomorrow. My letter on Thursday will include links to preschool schedules, elementary school schedules, middle school schedules, high school schedules, all of the information for the full time online option, as I read some All right, listen to some of the comments today. And people were indicating some that they didn't feel safe at some that they did. any parent who chooses to have their child online will have that option and that information is all in my letter tomorrow that will be going out the list of health And safety measures will be included. Research links will be included information about masks about screening, about precautionary measures about our h vac system about our custodial plans and disinfecting about social distancing, about a confirmed case protocol, and then follow up communications. I want to state something very clearly that I've talked to Steve Villareal about and to our entire team into the board. These are the plans that we have for today. And as this continues to evolve, we may have to pivot and go to a different plan, and we will let people know that as soon as possible if that becomes necessary. But Steve Villareal and I will be meeting on a regular basis as we have throughout this process. Boulder County Health will be meeting with us on a regular basis and we will continue to monitor this and we ask for people's patience if we have to shift from a K through 12 hybrid
on our website, we have It's been fully updated. We have reopening plan web content that will include of everything you need to know about preschool students, elementary students, middle school students, high school students, students with disabilities, English language learners health and safety measures home screening checklist will be provided. So parents can use that at home to check off the list every morning. All of the information for registering for our launch dead full time online instruction, attendance and grading policies, transportation procedures, we are going to be providing transportation for our students. I know that some of the surrounding districts have eliminated that for the majority of students. For an equity purpose we are going to continue to provide transportation Nutrition Services information about how lunches will be handled, parent community visitor and volunteer policies, information regarding state funding, Innovation Center information, career development, center information, athletics and activities. I will also be sending a letter to teachers and staff Tomorrow, that will include specific information about class size reduction, how to request an accommodation through our HR human resources department, face coverings, information attendance grading, the professional development plan for the synchronous learning and safety and our online learning format. There is quite a bit of information. We have been working on this diligently for months, and we'll continue to do so this is our top priority. Our students and our teachers and our staff have always and will always be our top priority. And we will put the resources in necessary I want to acknowledge the anxiety that exists. I appreciate that I have a tremendous amount of respect for our teachers and our community and our students. And we are listening. We are also paying very close attention to our health care professionals. There is no plan that will be met with full approval. We know that There are complications with each plan. What we are trying to do is create the best plan in terms of safety and health, and also one that continues to support a quality education for our children. And we will continue to listen and we will continue to make adjustments as necessary. I also want to thank our board. And I want to thank our team, and all of our teachers and staff, many of whom have been working hard this summer, and our students and parents for their patience and their support. So having said all that, I'm going to at this time, with your permission, Joey to turn it over to Mr. Jeff Sachs, and he is the executive director of the Boulder County Health Department and has been an outstanding partner with us. And Jeff will be working in partnership with Heather in their presentation and then Dr. arena as well. Thank you.
Thank you, Don, and thanks board members for inviting us to be here. It's much appreciate And I will note that with the governor's new mask quarter, we are allowed to take off our masks to talk when we're doing a presentation. So I just wanted to name that. The first thing I want to do is just thank don don has been a committed partner from the very beginning of the beginning of this from the very first time that we were starting to see the concerns to closing schools all the way through to planning for the fall. So St. rains been there. I talked to Don sometimes two or three times a week, so we stay in close contact with each other and the district has been working really diligently to address these issues. The other thing I want to do is make sure everybody knows that Dr. Urbina is my chief medical officer. So he is here to advise and advises me on any medical issues that I have. And he has previously in his role, he's been with us for five years, but previously was the director of the car Department of Public Health and Environment. So I feel very fortunate to have Dr. Bean as our chief medical officer and appreciate him being here and I want to thank Heather, because Heather is the one who's been leading all these planning sessions. We've been doing planning sessions with both school districts and with our private schools, from again from the very beginning, continuing through with graduation to fall planning, so, so thank you, Heather. And Heather is the one who's who's definitely in the weeds on all of this. So I appreciate all of her expertise. I also want to say that we've been, as Don mentioned, we've been working really closely with the metro Denver partnership for health, and that's the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Broomfield, Boulder, Denver, and Jefferson and several of those counties include medical directors who are directors of public health. We've also been meeting with pediatrician who's representing the Colorado American Academy of Pediatrics. So the local chapter has been has been meeting with us directly and has been advising us. We've also been talking with the public health and hospital physicians. In addition to epidemiologists, we've been talking with the car Department of Public Health and Environment We've been talking with the car Department of Education. And we have been meeting with researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health as well as their affiliates. So we're spending a lot of time really looking at this issue. This is, obviously we all know, this is a very significant issue. It has lots of implications. And we're taking all of this very seriously. As Don mentioned, we've also been researching the latest guidance. I'm not going to go through and list all of what Don said before, but we've been looking at all those. We've been paying attention to the national news to see what's coming out with the latest research. We're following up on those things. We have people who follow up on specific studies, and we've been supporting each other across the metro area to continue to do this work along with the color Department of Public Health and Environment. We also provided our own Metro level guidance, because the Colorado Department of Education just put the guidance out this week and schools were needing to make decisions quite a while ago. So we had come together along with that piece. Nutrition and looked at the research and then put our own guidance in place, which actually aligns very closely with everything that's come out at this point.
We also had two local public health directors, as well as representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that participated in developing the Colorado Department of Education guidance. So public health has been very involved in this and is going to continue to to be very involved in this as we move forward. Before I talk more specifically about school opening and some of the things that Don mentioned, I want to talk about local conditions. Because before we move forward, we have to look at what local conditions we have in front of us. So I just want to spend a few minutes talking about what are all our local conditions in Boulder County look like? So our average case counts and numbers of new cases are as follows. And I'm just going to go through these I don't have it in the graph. I'm sorry, but all of the things I'm going to talk about here are on our website. And although we're seeing we're not seeing a steady 14 De decline, which is something you heard mentioned earlier. In cases, we do have a manageable caseload at 12.2 average cases per day. And the case count for the last seven days have been since July 14, we were at 18. The 15th, we went to 29. That was our highest day, the 16th. We were at 20 cases, the 17th. We were at 11 cases, the 18th 11 19th 12 20th 12. And then yesterday we were at 13. So our case numbers are low. When you look at the metro area cases and you look at the metro area hospitalizations or any of the indicators that we're tracking. Boulder County is consistently in the various lowest portion of those metro areas. So we are doing really well in Boulder County and we're continuing to do really well. The only thing that we had, as I'm sure you're all aware, in the last month and a half was an outbreak that had occurred on the hill and that challenge Are system a bit, but it was contained to the hill and to some of the cu students. So we were able to with support to control that and that has now dropped off. We also have, we were one of the only counties that has an MOU with the University of Colorado to do contact and case investigation. So that see you as we move forward, they will be able to do their own investigations, they will be able to do their own contact tracing any of the isolation or support for enforcement things would have to come back to Boulder County Public Health, but that's a lot of support and help that we're getting from cu as well. So I'm more excited about that in terms of the ability of the state to help and support us. The state has roughly 400 AmeriCorps volunteers at the state level. Those volunteers are trained they get trained in a statewide system. In addition, the Colorado School of Public Health has trained 50 students from the school and those students were the ones who actually helped us On the hill outbreak when we had it, so there is a fair amount of capacity at the state level that we can step in and get support for. And lastly, we have mutual aid grant agreements with all of our local public health agencies in the front, in the Front Range as well. The second thing that is really important is testing capacity in our current five day positivity rate is 3.2%. And the goal for a five day positivity rate is 5% or less, and without going into a lot of detail. If we're less than 5%, it means we're doing well in testing it means that we're identifying virus in the community, and we are not having active spreads. So we are remaining at at less than five. And that's something that we continue to track not just in Boulder County, but also across the metro region. We also have capacity to easily meet our testing thresholds. So one of the requirements is that we are able to test all symptomatic people in Boulder County, as well as now asymptomatic people associated with positives that have been identified. And we have the ability to readily do that in Boulder County, the bigger challenge has been at the state level where there is more of a turnaround time lag that makes it difficult for us to then do those contact, tracing follow ups, and to be able to quickly respond when we do get a positive. But as you heard Don mentioned, St. vrain Valley School District is addressing that directly. By working with Gary community investments a 48 hour turnaround is exactly what we aim for. And it's great that you've been able to work out an arrangement with them to support that.
Also a summary of where we're seeing our cases come from, and I think this is one of the most important things. So if we have widespread community transmission, similar to what we saw early on and the virus spread, that's when we have concerns. So because we can identify where the cases are coming from. It's spreading so fast that we don't have the ability to contain it. That is Not the situation that we are in right now. Most of our cases are coming from workplace exposures. We have some restaurants and gathering exposures. And we are starting to see as was previously referenced by someone, some more exposure related to travel as well. But we are able to, to effectively manage those cases that we're seeing in our county. And we expect it will continue to be able to do that as long as we don't see another surge like we saw with the hill and Boulder, or hospitalizations, which is the other key that's important for us have consistently remained low in Boulder County, we are one of the lowest rates we are a much lower rate than the state. So if you look at the cumulative hospitalization rate for Boulder County, specifically for covid cases, it's 55.2 per 100,000 population. If you compare that to the States, the states is 106.3 per 100,000 and the NAT in the nation This was as of a couple days. Go is 113.6 nationally per 100,000. So we have, we have low hospitalizations, we track our hospitalizations with multiple indicators. So we're watching multiple parts of our hospital systems. And we meet with our hospital systems on a weekly basis to validate the data that we're tracking just to make sure that we're not seeing something or hearing something differently than what we're tracking on our indicators. So more about what we heard Don talk about and and what I heard in some of the comments that were submitted. And I want to start with a summary from the Harvard School of Public Health workgroup that I think catches the sentiment of most of what you're hearing from public health directors across the nation. And it's and this is not news to anybody in this room. I know that nor anyone who's probably turning in, or tuning in tonight, but it's we know that keeping schools close comes with massive, long term individual and societal costs. We know that many children can't have Effectively learn and grow. And that even by having schools closed as long as we've had, we have children who have lost probably more than a year. So we're all aware of that. And we know how important it is. And that that's why there's been a strong focus on really looking at, can we bring kids back to school and do it in a way that really reduces risk in the schools themselves. And that's that's been the goal of the expert organizations that you heard Don mentioned earlier that we've also been paying very close attention to is to do just that look at what do we know about cases with kids? What do we know about what's happening in schools that have opened in other places? And what kind of strategies can we use to reduce risk to the maximum extent possible and still allow kids to be back in a learning environment? And I think this is extremely important that we don't know for sure what's happening with this virus right? We've we've been learning about this virus ever since It first appeared here. It is novel and it is changing and No, that's been difficult for the community and for the public because it because information changes and then strategies have to change. And I think what Don said, is really critically important that we're going to continue to watch that we're going to watch the studies, we're going to pay attention to the research. Most importantly, we're going to pay close attention to what's happening within each of our districts. There has been a commitment, both from St. vrain Valley School District, as well as boulder Valley School District to work really closely. As Don mentioned, we hired an epidemiologist that is linking to both of our school districts, as well as the University of Colorado, so dedicated person to be on the ground, making sure that we're paying close attention to what's happening, and to make adjustments as necessary as we move forward.
And we're going to continue to share that information with our public as well. So as we see new things, we are going to be sharing new things and we'll make sure that it's transparent. But at this point, we have the best information in terms of what the research looks like. Now. We know Specifically, as I also heard someone mentioned earlier that the kids who are 10 years older and less, there is less transmission and that age group. And we know that above that age group, it looks like there is more transmission. And that's why part of the recommendations you're seeing split between 10 years old and less, and kids who are older than that, and I think what, what Don has presented was St. vrain Valley School District and creating the space with a social distancing. by splitting the grades makes makes really great sense. And it allows us to be as lowest risk as possible. So I appreciate the approach that you've taken and the amount of time that you spent really listening to what we're talking about. I also wanted to talk about just briefly, Don had mentioned that the Department of Education yesterday had been releasing the guidelines and the statement from Dr. Early who is with the caller, he's the medical epidemiologist With the current Department of Public Health and Environment, and I want to read this because I think again, it really captures the importance of why we need to move forward. He says, it's a truism in pediatrics that children are not just tiny adults, they respond to disease differently in all sorts of ways. He said, in the case of COVID-19, especially for children under age 10, kid, kids tend to get infected less, they have less extreme symptoms, and are less likely to transmit the virus to others. So again, what we're seeing is pretty consistent messaging and pretty consistent research from across the world, that's helping us reinforce that for the age group, at least at this point for 10 and under we're seeing less transmission. We also know that COVID-19 is different than influenza. We there's been a lot of public information about how kids can spread influenza and it's different with this virus. So I want to make sure that I call that out and say that because we've worked hard to make sure that we have kids who are less than 10, not spreading flu. And we know that it is different with covid at this point, so kids are reacting differently to this disease. And again, we're tracking it very closely as we move forward. I also want to talk about a Denver health model that's, that's coming out in the next week to two weeks. So Denver health has been working with the Colorado Health Institute to do a prediction model looking at pulling data from the Department of Education and then looking at what predictions might we see associated with covid spread across districts in the state of Colorado, and they're able to put that model together and to look school by school and district by district to do some predictions. It's it's got to be taken with a grain of salt. There's a lot of different things at each level, and each different district and each school that are going to vary, but it will allow us to use that tool To be able to help us predict and make some planning assumptions moving forward in the future. So when we have that model available, I will be sharing that model with all of you and Don will certainly have that as well. And as Don had mentioned, there's definitely no perfect plan for reopening schools, right. It's going to depend on the local jurisdiction, it's going to depend on what the infection rate in that jurisdiction is, how big those schools are, what their individual situations are. And it's going to be it's going to be as we move through this, we know it's going to be difficult. We know that compliance may be imperfect, we know that learning is going to be different. For kids. We know that we know the stress that's on teachers and the worry that's out there. And we also know that they'll be disruption as we go through this. We're not planning like we're not going to have outbreaks because we know we will have outbreaks. But we're planning to make sure that we contain and do the best we can to reduce the number of outbreaks and the disruption to both kids, families and the school at the same time. And again, I believe the plan that St. vrain Valley School District has put forward at this point meets that reduction of risk.
The last thing I'll say is just that I am very appreciative because Don did not have to follow all of the recommendations that we made it, he has the ability to make some decisions at the district level, just like others do that are superintendents, but we have been in this as a partnership from the very beginning, and I will continue to be there 110% for the district, because the district's been there 110% with us. So he's actively been listening to the recommendations that we're making. Both districts are asking great questions, and they're not. They're not going out on their own and saying we're going to do this it doesn't matter what it means for you. This is really complex. As you all know, some of these decisions are decisions that we've never had to face before and I hope we never have to face again. But they are complex and information changes quickly. And the fact that both Don and Rob with bvsd have been there 100% behind us is, is really appreciated. And it demonstrates the commitment to the kids in the district from, from my perspective anyway. So I want to thank Don for that. And I will stop there. And I know Heather wants to add some additional information and then see after that if Chris has comments that he wants to make.
Thank you, Jeff. And thank you, Don and board members for having us here tonight. I did want to talk a little bit about just the relationship that we've been able to build over the last several months, I've worked very closely, almost on a daily basis, I would say in particular with Dr. Completion with Jackie, and with other school staff closely with Don to talk through all of the mitigation strategies that I know Don outlined for you all this evening and feel really good confident in the district's ability to reduce the risk of disease transmission as much as possible. As Jeff said, the district has gone above and beyond a lot of our state recommendations. Looking at masks requiring that for all ages, the state does say that they recommend that for the under the age of 10, and I know the district has taken the step to protect everyone by requiring that reducing the class size with the hybrid model to allow for more space for social distancing is going to be really key. All of the upgrades to the H fac all of the importance and stress on hand washing and hygiene and sanitizer. This partnership with Gary community investments and providing those testing opportunities for staff, doubling the custodial staff and then also providing online options and other learning opportunities for students as well as options for staff and teachers. who need them? In addition to that, I just want to reiterate reiterate for all of you and for the public for our school communities, that as we move through this, as everyone has said, we need to be adaptable, we're gonna have to see what's happening, make adjustments, decisions around what we do won't have to be made in a silo. We do have an epidemiologist and a team that's being assigned to support specifically our school partners. To talk through what we do if if a case comes up what do we do if we need to close a building or exclude a classroom and so those are all steps that really help us as Boulder County Public Health to feel really confident in the plan as it stands today. So those are pieces I would like to add.
Chris, do you want to add anything?
Thank you, Don. Thank you for members of the Board of Education for allowing us to be here. I greatly appreciate I have very little to add to Jeff and Heather point out, but I wanted to hit some highlights that I think are important to emphasize. I too want to be complimentary to Don and his team, who, who I believe have paid attention to the science to look at the most available guidelines to listen to teachers, staff and parents, to accommodate people who have special needs, as well as give options and flexibility to both staff and students. Because I think that's critical for our success going forward. As I was listening to your comments, Don, in your presentation, I kept on checking out while that he covered that he covered that he covered that he covered that and and I really I couldn't find a spot where I think that Don and his team have not emphasized and, and the fact that he's flexible and is going to continue to work with us in terms of looking at our data and looking at the available research is refreshing and exciting and I think the board should feel very comfortable with that parents and teachers and staff. And students should feel excited about this opportunity to come back to school because I think Don is has crossed all the T's and dotted all the i's. And so I want to say hats off to you. And hats off to the board for considering this proposal. I think it meets basically all the questions I heard in the comments earlier, as well as it makes it as safe as possible. You know, we and Don and I were talking about this earlier. Nothing is 100% safe as a health care provider, a family doc for 40 years and a public health person for as long as that is. That's as good as you can get in my mind, and I think you should be reassured that I think Donna's done and his team have done an excellent job and our partners ship going forward will ensure that we can pay attention to those details and and mitigate problems as we move forward. And I'll be around to answer calls. questions if there are particular comments that the board wants to make or questions about the science? Thank you.
Thank you, Dr. Urbino you and appuyer. I want to apologize to you for mispronouncing your name at the beginning of the meeting, my apologies. So thank you very much for all of your contributions. Steve, I think at this time, if you're you're prepared, it would be appropriate for you to share thoughts and comments and information that you have. And then at that point, I have a few comments I'd like to make and we can certainly open it up for additional questions. Okay. Thank you, Joey. Great. Thank you.
And first of all, I'd like to thank everybody here. I think that we have conducted ourselves in a professional team manner. And I appreciate our guests being here. I think it's important that science and medicine is driving this. And I think that's going to be something that's going to be very reassuring to not only our public, but to our teachers want to Add a little humanity to this because I am a teacher at heart. I taught for over 22 years, I've been the president of s VBA. For this is my third It feels like the 15th after this year, but needless to say, it's been a challenging year. It's been a challenging year for parents. It's been a challenging year for our school system for teachers and for everybody. And throughout this entire journey that started back in March, I just want to first of all command our educators. They stood up, they pivoted, they did something that, you know, we were having a fantastic year, you know, without a whim without any kind of, you know, real care in the world. And then suddenly, in March, we were online. We were in the middle of a pandemic, and our teachers met the occasion, and they stood up. They did everything they needed to do. And I know there are a lot of doubters out there who were saying that the online model wasn't that great. I challenge that challenge that from the standpoint that our teachers did the best they could. I've seen some of the lessons, I actually went to a couple houses to watch them conduct these lessons. And they were putting their hearts and soul into this. And I think that needs to be recognized. And I know it's been recognized by district leadership. But I also think that all of the parents out there and our teachers need to hear that. But as we've been moving forward over the last couple months, needless to say, it's been challenging. I hear from teachers on a daily basis. I hear their stories. I hear their concerns. I hear their fears. And one of the reassuring things that I've been able to tell them particularly with our ones who are vulnerable, is that we will take care of you. We will help you we will do everything we humanly can. I've heard from teachers who are caregivers for 93 year old parents. I've heard from teachers who've literally sent me pictures of their children, who are, you know, vulnerable. You in the emergency room or in the intensive care unit, the nice thing about this and I know that doesn't seem like something that you can really be positive about. But from my perspective, it's provided me the humanity that sometimes I think we forget that our teachers have fears that they have anxieties, and more importantly, they're human. And so it's opened my eyes to the fact that you know what, sometimes it's not about more plan time. Sometimes it's not about always having more lunches or whatever the problem is. Right now we're dealing with situations that are literally life and death. And I'm grateful for the partnership that we have created with St. vrain. And, uh, trying to help our teachers and trying to get this situation to where we're back in the classroom, doing what we do best and that's teach our students now I do want to say that it's and this has been something you know, as we've gone through this journey, I think Had to reach out to other members or other locals and other school districts. You know, because I was beginning to think, is this just a saint brain thing are our teachers, the only ones who are feeling this anxiety. And I've reached out to several local presidents. And it's everywhere. It's something that's valid, and it's something that we need to be very cognizant of. And as I was sharing stories with them, and they were sharing their stories with me, it would get emotional, because there are serious, you know, situations out there. But one of the things that really brought something to light was that when we began to start talking about our plans, when we began to start talking about what will the fall look like?
They kind of looked at me and said, I don't know we haven't really had that discussion. And so we began to discuss things and we began to start saying, well, when St. Rain you know, we have a group of teachers that are working with the district. We have this we have that I'm in constant communication with our district leadership. We're doing this and we're doing that and they're kind of looking at me like I had three on my shoulder. And I think that that has been the key element that has given me a lot of faith in not only what we've created here, and you know, the experts who validated this, but also just in our district in our partnership. Now, this has not been an easy journey, by no means. And like I said, we've had a lot of starts, we've had a lot of stops. We started these discussions back in April. And I think the complexity of all of this is going to be a challenge. And we have to be adaptive. As you know, I've heard several times in this room, you know, it's the virus that's dictating what we're doing as it should be. And so I just want to reiterate, and I know we have a lot of teachers out there who were listening, I think they crashed the internet on this. So I want to, you know, reiterate to them that this collaboration is going to continue. It is a continual process. And next week, you'll be getting this plan from all of your administrators Hopefully you'll be engaging it, you'll be asking the right questions, you'll be problem solving. And if we still have questions, please make sure that you're engaging your a ours, so that we can problem solve it. Because we'll be meeting with dawn and Jackie, and other, you know, members of, you know, the leadership team to begin to start talking and answering these questions and looking at this entire plan. And again, nothing is neat, nothing is easy. But I think when we have such a complex issue like this, that there's not going to be an easy answer. I told this to Jackie earlier. And I think I keep hearing that over and over again. And finally, the last point I would like to make is I'm greatly appreciative to have medical professionals and scientists here. I think, unfortunately, and I'm not going to blame anybody. I think both sides are to blame politically, this has become an issue and it shouldn't become an issue. And so I'm extremely grateful and Really, it's given me a lot of solace and knowing that our decisions are being based on science, or being based on medical, you know, the best medical practices. And I hope, and I expect that to continue. And again, we're going to continue to engage this issue. And if we have to make changes, we'll make changes if we have to make recommendations, we will make recommendations. But from the bottom of my heart, I truly sincerely want our teachers to understand that we're out there and we're going to engage this so that they have the most safe and productive classroom that they can possibly have this fall. And I think everybody here and especially you guys, I, like I said, it's given me a lot of peace of mind to see that a lot of our decisions are being driven by medical professionals and scientists. Thank you.
Steve, I just want to say thank you for not only your words, but for The partnership and for the collaboration and I have shared with you on multiple occasions, and I'll share with you again, my 100% commitment is to making sure that our teachers and our staff and our students have the resources they need and the accommodations they need. And we will continue to talk. I know you and I talk almost anymore. It's almost daily, but but our full commitment is there, and I appreciate everything. And I hope that our teachers who are listening, know that I share your sentiment, this is a very difficult time. And I understand that fully. And it's it's a challenge and we'll just keep working through it together. And all of you, you know, Jeff and Heather and all of you would really appreciate Dr. You being here. And Heather, you being here and Jeff, you being here as well. So thanks
Jackie. Did you have any comments before I I launched to mine.
You know, I don't have any comments other than to say that, truly over the last three or four months, everything that we have done here in St. Brian has been with the health and safety in the wellness in mind for our students and our staff. And it really is an incredible team. It has been a great team effort. We've had a lot of support from the board. Our superintendent has worked hundreds and hundreds of hours along with many others on our team. And, you know, I I don't believe there's probably something we haven't thought about or worried about. I'm sure there. There may be but we have gone through the lists. And we've gone over these things, many, many times and we have aligned them next to the protocols and the advice that we've been given from the medical community and, you know, I think we have a tremendously solid plan in place and We really look forward to having our students back. And I think when that happens, it'll be a really great day for both our students and our staff.
Absolutely. Thank you. Thanks, Jackie. Don, any comments that you would like the board to hear prior to me making a few comments and opening it up for questions?
Now, just a reminder, well, there I go. I say no, and then I go with a comment. But everybody did that. So I'll take it, okay. But just want to remind everybody, teachers, staff, you'll be receiving a letter tomorrow, and many links to our website with lots of information, and families, you will all be receiving a letter for me that's comprehensive with all of the things we've talked about. And so please look for those and, and thank you for that.
Great, thank you, Dan.
Do you want to
take just a moment to make a few comments and to recognize Jeff and Heather, Dr. Urbina. And Steve, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing science. I do one thing I do think, while we're all in leadership positions, and I know that I've not walked in your shoes, I do believe that we share one common goal and that is safety. I think we all understand that I know as a district, our mission, you know it that can't be fulfilled to help every student achieve their fullest potential without prioritizing safety. And I believe you share that, that common beliefs. So thank you. You know, in listening to all of the comments, and I'm going to get this out out first. I absolutely do support Don, your suggestion of a hybrid model. I think that reaches the goal of balancing the need for student teacher and staff safety. With student well being and and learning quite honestly What I heard from from all of you is, you know, Steve, I want you to hear that I recognize that teachers, and I recognize that staff across the district, they're stressed, and there's anxiety and there, there's fear. And I hear that and I recognize that. And I know that I in the sport of education done, we support you in your commitment to supporting those people and ensuring that that their needs are met, and they're supported. Steve, thank you. Jeff, what I heard you say and pardon me, I had to take notes. You guys shared so much information. Jeff, what I heard you say is that local conditions absolutely matter and our local conditions, you consider them to be the best information that you have right now that our plan is the lowest risk possible. You recognize that there's no perfect plan, of course, but that St. vrains plan. Absolutely. meets the goal of reducing risk as much as possible. Agreed? Yes, yeah, you don't have to take it off, I just want to make sure that I'm hearing I want to make sure I'm making my decision based on accurate information. If I say something wrong, throw your hand up. And that's also taking into account, you know, accommodations, interventions, to checking all those boxes. Heather, I heard you say again, also that you're confident that that you're appreciative of the relationship, that you're confident in the district's ability to continue to decrease the risk as much as possible with all of the current strategies and interventions that are in place and that you'll continue to meet and liaise and make sure that all of those those boxes remain checked. And, and and I recognize that all of this is fluid, and it may change as we move through the process. But I hear confidence from you as well in the hybrid plan. Yes. Great. Thank you. And then Dr. Urbina, something you said, and I guess I copied you a little bit. And I was doing the same thing. I also watched Dr. Early in the presentation with CDE on the guidelines for reopening schools in Colorado. And I took notes during that and Dr. Urbina, you are an expert, I could never compare, you know, to all of your knowledge and expertise. However, I also checked all the boxes that they stated were important in those guidelines. And so you also believe it's safe as possible, not 100%. I don't want anybody to believe that I'm saying that. But the plan is, is as safe as possible. Yes. Great. Thank you. You know, I think that while it is impossible to come up with the perfect plan at times, like these times like these can pull communities apart, or they absolutely can pull them together. And I do believe that as a board in a district, we're committed to finding, as we always have been the most common ground possible that will prioritize safety and continue to act in the best interest of the children for whom this board and school district are responsible. And based on the information presented this evening, I do believe that the hybrid model meets that criteria. I'd like to open the floor up now for questions from board members, I would ask you, you know, limited maybe to two or three of what you consider to be your top priority questions.
I would also ask that those questions remain strategic at the board level. And if you do have a question, you know, that goes, goes a deep into operations or management, it might be best to save those to talk with Don at a later time. So at this time, I'll open up the floor We can go around the horn or board members can simply jump in. Any takers? Oh, Paula. Sorry. I'm just looking around the Dyess. I apologize, Paula. Go ahead.
That is okay. Can you guys hear me I'm, yep, we're good. Okay. Thank you all so much for coming. This is incredibly complex and all the other adjectives everyone has, has used all evening long. I'll just jump into a couple of pieces. I The reason I am home tonight is because I was in Florida a week ago. So I'm being responsible and trying to keep all of you safe. But I was there and you know, when it was, it was scary. We were getting we were getting the same numbers that you were getting, and I was in the middle of it. And we've also been getting that kind of our teachers and our parents have done a lot of research on their own. They're paying attention. They're watching the CDC. And they're watching other countries. And Don is you know, they've been sending us a lot of information. So it can be overwhelming as, as the governance board of the school district. So I thank you so much from Boulder County Health, for being here and giving us the local perspective, which is really what we need to be laser focused on. While all the rest of it is certainly happening out there in the world, we need to know what's happening on the ground here. So I feel so much better hearing from you. And really understanding what are we working with and knowing that you are the professionals that are looking at all that worldwide data, and sharing it fluidly with us so we can make the absolute best decisions possible for students and teachers. If I could just ask a couple of quick questions, given what we know we're in now and again, we're hearing the media from all around the country? Why, if you could just kind of walk me through in March, we did a 24 hours shutdown, when the numbers weren't where they are today. And now we're working with these hybrid models. I am trusting that. I do believe that we're being as safe as we possibly can be. But can you walk me through why we made a decision in March in that context? And why we are supporting hybrid models now in our current context?
Sure, I'm happy to answer that question. And we had this question last night from the boulder Valley School District Board of Education. When we decided to close schools in March. We did that because you have to remember it was brand new, this is a brand new virus. We didn't know how the virus was going to act in our community. We were on the upswing of cases. We know a lot more now even being four or five months later than when this started. So that's the difference between why we are where we are right now. I think now we have guidance that is respectful of what we know about the virus. And it represents what we know about the virus. And we're just going to have to keep an eye on the virus in any changing research as we move forward. But that that's the really the big difference. Heather, Chris, anything else to add?
Yeah, I think I would just add that we also now have better understanding of how the virus behaves in children. And in March, we didn't know that. I think we many people expected the virus to act the way that flu does among children and just spread really rampantly. And so that felt like the appropriate response at that time, and now, we better understand or we're starting to better understand what this how this impacts, especially young children.
One other piece to add, Paula, I do think we were able to watch what was happening internationally. And so we were watching. Not only the research But what other countries were doing so that we learned from that, so that even though we had a handful of cases, and we still still have a handful of cases, we were truly able to put into place specific actions that flattened the curve that actually made a difference in stopping the spread. We didn't have that information, we were successful. And all the things that Don has put into the plan, have continued those same actions that we know prevent the spread of disinfection that Heather talked about. So I'm much more reassured than I was in March when Jeff Dunn and Robin I stood up in the press conference room at the public Calvin said we need to close schools now I know how we can prevent outbreaks and I know that we can make a difference by listening and and and putting these pieces into place.
Thank you, um,
one other follow up question if I may, in the event, and this may still be evolving, but what are the triggers as you understand them today? For quarantining a classroom quarantining of cohort shutting down a school? Is that work in progress as far as when those triggers are, are are met? And if so, what were your thoughts on that? how that would be managed? Oh, yeah.
Sure. So we are currently partnering with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. They are working on a comprehensive outbreak management matrix and step by step process of what to do if we have a positive case or a probable case the steps to take. We are expecting that out either later this week or next week. In addition to that, we're working very closely with our epidemiologists within Boulder County Public Health, to talk through those pieces, even to the point of defining what constitutes an outbreak. Who are all the high risk contacts all of those pieces that would look at who are needing to exclude given a case. And I think, you know, I just want to assure people that that those types of decisions won't be made in isolation. Similar to all of our communicable disease protocols, there will be steps to follow. People will know who they're supposed to contact. We have an on call epidemiologist. So all of those pieces are just important for folks to know as well.
Thank you. It sounds like I know you mentioned the epidemiologist assigned to the school districts as well as the contract tracers it sounds like we have all the staff in place necessary for those events, when they happen, and we pretty much know they will happen. But if we, if we can pounce on them and get the resources on them, as soon as possible, that's we're going to keep everybody as safe as safe as possible. Last time, I don't Want to dominate the discussion? Time is for Steve. Thank you, Steve so much for being here. You are you and the teachers are a pivotal part of this trifecta. It is public. You know, it is public health. It is the school administration, and it is the teachers, students and families. The fact that you're here and in supporting the teachers, for me and I shared this with with Don earlier, yes, we want to follow the science. Yes, we want to make as evidence base decisions as we can, as far as state safety for teachers and students and creating the best learning environment we can in this reality we're living in, but there's the safety and then there's the feeling of being safe, of really knowing that the supports are there. The models are there, the transition is there. And I really want the teachers to to feel that it's that it's there. And from what I hear you saying, Steve, it's nothing's perfect. I Everybody's nervous for sure. Well, I guess you share with me like how what is your perception of that? Is the perception of the safety there as well?
Well, I think, as you know, we're moving forward, I think tonight, you know, the hope is, is that people are going to see what is going to be in place. And that brings down those anxieties. And again, I think it's a perfectly natural response to something like this. I think we've seen a lot in the news, we're getting a lot of different information. And, you know, obviously, a lot of people are on the internet and probably should maybe reduce that a little bit, because there's a lot of bad stuff out there. But I'm hoping and I, you know, telling, you know, our teachers right now that I feel like this is a good place to be at given everything that is in place, given the people that are working, you know, with the district, given the leadership and given the cooperation that we've had, and the collaboration that we have, I feel like we're in a good place. My hope is Is that, you know, the people who are watching tonight or will be watching later, is that they're going to be reassured that everything that is being done can be done. And so, yeah, I think that that's my hope. And that's my aspiration. I think that you know, everyone's going to be a little nervous. I think that's a perfectly natural response. And I think it's something that we have to honor and something that we have to keep cognizant of, because, you know, this is a unique situation. I mean, this is my first pandemic, and hopefully my last and nothing has gone the way it's supposed to. But again, I think that hopefully tonight has gone a long way to at least quell some of these fears, but also to, you know, reassure everybody, including parents and students that you know, we're in a good place.
Thanks. Thanks, Steve. I am again, I really appreciate your you literally being at the table tonight, as well as the public health people. My understanding is you have survey teachers, you know, we are we've, we've received a lot of input from teachers and parents. So I am very comfortable that we're doing the kind of outreach necessary to collect that input and to make the best decision we can. And lastly, I'll just close with I really appreciate john, and Jackie, the incredible amount of work you and your staff has done. And I think the communication piece you already mentioned on is really, really critical now that we're, you know, within a month of starting school. I know what's coming. You talked about the announcement tomorrow, you talked about the principal messages. I know, you know, the training that's coming up, I'm hoping as we step into this, you know, everybody will kind of understand where where decisions have been made with the best interest of everybody in mind. And we all have to work together. As Joey said, we have to come together enough come apart for the best interest of our students and our community. So thank you, everybody. I so appreciate all the work that's being done.
Thank you, Paula. Other board member comments or questions, Chico?
Yeah, just one, one question. But first, I also want to thank everyone, for being here tonight and more importantly, along the way with us in helping guide us through this and into Don, and then the rest of the staff who've been involved in this work every day for the past few months. Jeff, you'd mentioned a report, Harvard, I missed the name of the report. But I wonder if you can match that again, and also reiterate the point around that point. I think that's, you know, really important as far as why this is so complex, right. And that balances. So hard to find and why this plan aligns well with that, but I think if you can reiterate that point for me and and tell me again, what that what that report was.
Absolutely. It's the Thank you for the question. It's the Harvard School of Public Health and its risk reduction strategies for reopening schools. And I'm just going to mention the other three because they're more specific than just what Don said American Academy of Pediatrics, school reentry guidance, the national academy of sciences, engineering and medicine reopening K through 12 schools during the covid 19 pandemic. And then obviously, the Centers for Disease Control recommendations. And the the intention with the summary was from the Harvard School of Public Health and I'll just go through these bullet points again, it's keeping schools closed comes with massive long term individual and societal costs. Many children can't effectively learn grow, engage, socialize, be active, eat healthy food, or get the support until school reopen school closures can be especially hard. And most of our vulnerable populations, which we all know, it's difficult for parents and caregivers to go back to work until children get back to school. And those were some of the key things that Harvard the Harvard experts that worked on this, we're finding and again why they came up with strategies. That are aligning with the the recommendations that we've made and are definitely in alignment with what St. vrain Valley School District has proposed.
Great, thank you. And, and, again, just with what you said along with everything else that's been laid out there just I just, you know, for me that goes to the the complexity of why we want to bring kids back has always been the goal, right and, and the precautions that we have to take otherwise. So that is the point I want to reiterate and thank you all for being here. So
thank you, Chico. Karen, did you have any questions or comments this evening?
Great. Thank you, john. Thank you.
No more of just really appreciating the the outreach. I've known St. Rain to be a great gatherer of collaborative efforts and You have a nonlinear approach where they're really listening to all the cohorts. And I think that's a strength that has really propelled St. Ryan to finding the best outcomes. But now to see it outreach to the community, and I thank you so much for being here. We do have to base our decisions on science, along with comfortability. And there is a lot of questions by our community out there right now in terms of, you know, how we get steps back to where we were, and and i don't know when that's going to happen, but we need to get our students back into schools. I mean, we know that education is probably one of the greatest assets that a community can have. And we do have to look at our community, not communities that are in California or Florida, or Texas or anywhere else, I mean, the information is critical to to make our decisions right here and now. I have outreach to our teachers and our administrators and and I think the plan that is in there to now have classes smaller, to do an A B scheduled to do a
a piece which will minimize the
amount of contact that is important and we need to realize that no one's going to be happy with every plan, but this plan seems to be one which will have the most girth in terms of making people comfortable. I want to point to a one of the good aspects and that was St. brain was well prepared in their technology efforts to really face these challenges, and I feel honored that that's the case and I feel sorry for the districts that did not have that advantage. I think this is something we need. to work on in a world and well, at least in the country, and probably around the world to make sure that our students have access to technology. One of the
one of the aspects which will,
I think we're going to learn a lot. Right now, in terms of what we can do with technology. We're going to have students that are well versed in grasping, online learning and others that won't fare as well. But having the ability to identify those strengths, and having the teachers be able to reach out to the students that need more one on one contact is going to be something that we may not have gotten if we had just pursued other methods of building our schools up to quickly I think this slower Introduction is important. And so I'm happy to see what was taking place. And I and I have reached out to as I said to many people, but the is as Joey mentioned today that those boxes were checked off. I really hope that there were many people listening to the discussions that took place tonight. I, I think it was laid out well, and I appreciate everything you have brought to the table. It's great to see you same brain, working with the sciences, and it's great to see all of you here. So I, I learned a lot myself tonight. I've been doing more reading in the past week in months than I think I ever have. It's It's tough. And I hope that the comfort level for our teachers, our parents and our students, is at a point where we can excel with education and get back to to the learning that needs to take place. And that's such an important characteristics for our community.
And I thank you very much for being here.
Thank you, john. Jim, do you have any comments or questions this evening?
Actually, I do in my best effort to be redundant. I want to thank everybody for being here. For you need to hear that because we really do appreciate the work that you have put in. I know the hours that our staff has put in, and the hours we put in, and through reading all the emails we received and all the the texts that came into the emails that came in for the board questions that we weren't able to read all tonight, that we'll be able to read them when they're in the record. I had a whole list of questions. And much like Joey, as Don was speaking, and you all were speaking, all those questions got answered. So I'm really looking forward to the document tomorrow. And I'm gonna recommend strongly that everybody who's listening tonight, everybody who's watching tonight and those who watch tomorrow when it's posted, make sure they get a copy of that document and go over it thoroughly. Because all your questions are going to be answered, I'm sure. And document because it's covering everything we're going to do to go back under hybrid, everything we're doing to give them a launch head, those options, all the issues around taking care of the special needs students. And that answers a lot of questions from all the teachers probably who are anxious is, as Steve said, airings de anxiety of what are we going to be doing? How are we going to be doing it? And and john and john said it it's it should have set up a position where people are going to be very comfortable, or more comfortable and relaxed by approaching this and more aware of what to look for to make sure there's something's going on that day. You know how to respond to it and and nip it in the bud.
That's really all I have to say. Thank you.
Thank you, Jim. Dick.
I will come back. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Karen has a couple of questions in a comment. So I will go back to her after, after Dec you. Make your comments.
Thank you, joy. I, I guess my fellow board members have said much of what what I was going to say. I think that, in principle, the thing that I am most encouraged by is the willingness First of all, the commitment of both our health agencies, Boulder County and the district leadership to work closely together and responsibly responsively.
Deal with the changing conditions as they arise.
For me, that's a
signal. In fact, it's it's a
lighthouse moment in terms of identifying for us not only, first of all the current plan being responsive to the current conditions, but the commitment on the part of our district and the commitment on the part of Boulder County Health, to to work together and ensure over time, that as conditions change, our responses will change. We will continue to listen to the sciences we have and will continue to respond at the district level with plans that are in tuned with the best information that we have at any particular time going forward. So Realize that the partnership is a source of great encouragement to me. And I deeply appreciate your presence here and the information you've provided, not only in this meeting but also in the other meetings that you've had with our leadership. I guess I want to also point out the flexibility that with which Don adad and his leadership team have responded to the input that we got from our community partners from our parents.
input that we've received from the
from volta county health and others, in that the plan that we're proposing tonight is or this under consideration is different than the one that we had under consideration As a first draft, it's a direct response to changing conditions. And I think it is.
I think it is a very
Well, I think it's a very thoughtful and responsive plan that that enables us to, on one hand, demonstrate that we're listening to comments from our communities demonstrate that we're not only doing the minimum that's required for or recommended from our health agencies, but we're leaving no stone unturned in order to provide an excellent education and health in a safe learning environment. So, that part the flexibility is of great encouragement to me because it provides us with an opportunity to Continue to be continued to ensure ourselves as well as our public and our students, that we will at every moment do what is best for the education and safety of our students. And the the other part that I'm encouraged, I want to say something, if I may about Steve's presence here that that I highly value, but the other thing that I heard in Don's report was that we will see the written plan that outlines the the specific steps that we plan to take, but that plan will be implemented with flexibility, it will be implemented with responsiveness to the needs that arise that we may not, that are details that will respond on a case by case basis as they arise. We have a solid system Have a plan within which those that the solid plan allows us to be responsive to individual needs. And that is a great encouragement to me.
In my own work, I've
the best advice I ever got from actually was the former Assistant Secretary of the Army, Elvis j star. He said when we first met and talked, never allow yourself to be put into position where you will
be forced to substitute rules for brains.
And this, this plan is a plan that positions us to within a solid framework to use our brains and be responsive To accommodate the changing conditions. So I think in terms of a plan, and an approach that's right for this moment that
I wholeheartedly endorse this.
I just wanted to say
recognize the role that Steve has played and the voice, voices of teachers throughout the district that we hear through his input.
Steve, I, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for advocating for our teachers to helping us make even better decisions than we might otherwise do. And to keep us attuned to and sensitive to those changing needs, as our experience informs what is best. As we get back we will learn more about what's possible and what's not what buildings work, how they work. And it will be the input that we have from our teachers directly, but also, through us our representatives that will allow us to be continually responsive to doing what's best for our students at all levels. So thank you, Steve, for your presence here.
Thank you, Dick. Karen.
Thanks, Joey. I just want to say I have tremendous appreciation for leadership. Everyone here, Joey? deck. I'm sorry, Joey Don, and Dr. competion, especially thank you. It's such a chaotic time and you've providing so much soundness to all of us. So thank you for that. You know, the information from national news channels, platforms, Dr. Google, our political climate are so unsettling and it's just it's really nice to hear the focus on facts and science and all this flexibility and thinking Through how the various aspects of this pandemic are going to affect us here locally where we really need to make the decisions. Thank you so much Heather Jeff and Dr. Urbina for your partnership and this information that you provided tonight, and your tireless ongoing research. Thank you so much, Steve, for being there for our teachers and for working with us to ensure that we recognize those real fears and anxieties. I mean, we all feel them. I don't think anybody can deny that, and, and for really working so well with us to address and those concerns efficiently and effectively. I am also supportive of this hybrid model, and I'm confident that the plan will have I'm almost sure the plan will evolve. And I'm confident as it does. Because of the strength in our community that we've been building for so long, that our teachers and our students and our community will embrace and continue learning and staying connected. in various ways that that we'll look as we get to know them. I reiterate Dr. martyrs, recognizing the importance of flexibility and responsiveness at this time. I am also interested as Paula asked and learning more about the confirmed case outbreaks. And so thank you, Heather, for working on that over the next few weeks. I'll be interested in finding out more. And I'm really looking forward to seeing the students this weekend at the graduation ceremonies. Thank you so much for making that happen, because it's going to be so cool. And it will be unforgettable for those kids, which is really what matters. That's why we're here. So thank you.
Thank you, Karen. Steve, just Jeff Heather, Dr. Urbina, any parting comments you would have before we get ready to adjourn the meeting this evening.
Yeah, Julie, I have a question for
for Jeff. And I've been getting questions popping in so forgive me if I'm doing double time here. Teachers. I think one of the concerns or I don't know if it's really a concern, but we have schools that are located in weld County. So are those numbers going to be monitored during this time to make decisions? If you know, let's say weld county is having a outbreak while you know, Boulder County is relatively settled?
It's a great question. And weld county has a new director, I think most of you probably know. So we have just made contact with the new weld county director and we will have to make sure that just like we are with the metro Denver partnerships. For Health, we're in very close connection that will need to be in close connection with a new weld county director to do that as well.
Great, thanks, Steve. Anything else? Good.
All right. When you're done, I wanted to share something.
Why? I don't care. I'll go first. You can go first way. Cool. All right. I just want to make a couple closing comments done. I do want to thank everybody who was Attendance I want to recognize also, you know, we received a lot of comments and questions from families also. And just as with the teachers, we understand with those families that there is a lot of anxiety, there's fear, there's questioning, we understand that this board of education has either currently has children in the school district, they have families or loved ones who are teachers or employees in the school district. We have had children who have graduated from this school district. I want to make it clear that I would never support this plan unless I would be willing to send my children and be comfortable with my loved ones going into those schools and teaching and I absolutely AM. And so I want just everybody to understand that we recognize that. Dawn, I want to just take a minute I know that I say this to you. I say that. No idea why this is happening. I'm sorry everybody. I say to personally a lot, but I want to thank you for your leadership. And Jackie, I want to thank you for your leadership. We wouldn't be here right now, without that, and with all of the wonderful partners that we have in the room, and also the partners who couldn't be here this evening. And so I don't want that to go unrecognized. Thank you very much for that. I know that when you go to sleep at night, and when you wake in the morning that your first thought is the safety and well being of everybody in this district. So thank you. My last parting comment, you know, Don, I know that you're going to be in touch with with everyone here and with principals and teachers. But could you just one more time lay out the communication plan when people can expect when teachers and everybody can expect to get information?
Absolutely. Right. Thank you for that. And it's, it's a good segue because one of the things that I wanted to also do in addition to, you know, express my just my sincere appreciation to everyone I wanted to, you know, thank Dr. Kapoor, who is, you know, takes calls at 10 at night 11 at night 12 at night emails. And then we have, you know, this constant conversation going on about what about this? What about that and you call this person I'll call this person and I look in the back there and I see Carrie McDermott, when you ask about communication. I think sometimes Jennifer says, Give me your phone, you're not calling these people anymore, because she's another one that's just tireless and brilliant in her work. So I appreciate people who have said thank you. But I also want you to know that there's a team and these two ladies are just phenomenal. And Steve, I feel the same way about the work that you do and appreciate you always being there to listen and advise and guide and you're just your tremendous advocacy for our teachers and our staff and What I would want everybody to know is something that you said too, as I make these recommendations. It's always with the thought in mind what I send my child into this particular situation. And that's, you know, and as I lead in this situation, it's always with my head and my heart. And I want people to know, they can contact me anytime and have any conversation and share any thought. And we will be meeting regularly to talk about the environment and how things are evolving. And if we need to make adjustments, we'll make adjustments and to your point, we have a system but we will work within the system where our people always come first. So thank you for that. And then to your question. Tomorrow, Carrie will be sending out my letter that will go out to all families, and it will be the letter with all of the links into a pretty extensive website with all of that information that anybody can access. I will also be sending that to teachers and staff and then I We'll be sending a separate letter to our teachers that will articulate things very specific to their work. And then our principals will be working to present a video that we'll go to that will be presented at their school that will walk parents and everyone through what it will look like in their particular school. I will be meeting with the Steven the IRS. I think we've got it set for Wednesday, because our principals are going to be meeting with their staff on Mondays and Tuesday, this Monday and Tuesday, and then people will come with more questions and we'll have that meeting with all of the representatives for each of the schools. And it'll just be constant communication. And if we need to pivot, we'll pivot in partnership with our teachers and our staff and our parents and our students and obviously the board and our critical partners and Boulder County Health. I think that's it Jackie or, Carrie, do you have any other information about communication Okay,
right. And then Don, if parents, if people do have questions, there is a form they can access on the district website specifically for questions to surrounding Coronavirus return COVID returned to school all of those things correct? Correct.
And that information will go out in the letter that they can log in. And they're also welcome to email me directly or call me and that was
my next question is everybody can access your your information, your contact? Absolutely. All right. So, you know, I'm humbled and privileged to sit here this evening. Thank you. Thank you to everyone in the room. We wish you a safe rest of the summer. And with that, I'll entertain a motion for adjournment. Joy.
Yes, we're gonna vote on it.
No, we are not tech. We're just voicing our support. We are not waiting. We're not going to vote. No.
Well, I think there's unanimous support among, among the board members. So
Oh, there absolutely is. Yeah,
I was noting as we went around the room that there, there absolutely is supports and, you know, I trust on to move forward as appropriate with the plan. But no, we are not going to do a formal vote this evening. I would entertain a motion for adjournment. Please. Show moved by Jim and a second by Karen. All in favor. Hi,
great. Thanks, everyone. Have a safe evening.