The Academy is following a routine disease control model for COVID-19
As the youngest Coloradans become eligible for vaccines and COVID-19 surveillance indicators such as case rates, percent positivity, and hospitalization rates decrease and stabilize at low levels, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and the Tri-County Public Health Department are advising schools to transition away from a case-investigation response model to a more typical routine disease control model for disease control in schools. Such a model focuses more on response to clusters of cases, outbreaks, and evidence of ongoing transmission in schools, and less on individual case investigation, contact tracing, and quarantining of staff and students following school exposures. A routine disease control model for COVID-19 more closely aligns COVID-19 efforts with public health response strategies used for other infectious diseases in schools.
Elements of a routine disease control model for COVID-19 in K-12 settings include:
- Continue to encourage vaccination of staff and students.
- Follow isolation guidelines for students and staff who are ill or have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Continue to recommend transmission prevention strategies, including testing and masking for staff and students following illness and exposures.
- Respond to clusters of cases (including increases in respiratory illness) and confirmed outbreaks as described below.
Strategies not continued in routine disease control model (unless a cluster or outbreak is detected):
- Individual case investigation and contact tracing.
- Quarantine of students and staff with school-associated exposures.
The Academy of Charter Schools is excited to provide a full, in-person instructional model for all grade levels for the 2022-23 school year. The importance of in-person learning has been made amply clear over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and The Academy’s leadership team is confident that we can maintain in-person learning in a reasonably safe manner. Our team has filtered through an extensive body of public health guidance, educational recommendations, and community feedback. Our goal throughout this work has been and will continue to be providing a high-quality, equitable educational experience for all students that balances the needs of the whole person – health, safety, academic, and social-emotional – while valuing trust, relationships, and community.
While we are moving forward confidently with starting the 2022-23 school year with a full, in-person learning model, The Academy’s leadership team still feels it is prudent to have backup plans in place should the unexpected arise. Please continue reading below for an outline of what our emergency pandemic plans could include if they are needed.
The Academy collaborates with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Education, the Charter School Institute, and the Tri-County Health Department to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and staff. Important safety protocols are ready to be put in place to limit exposure and transmission of COVID-19. These could include but are not limited to:
• Daily symptom screening.
• Students and staff who present symptoms are required to stay home.
• Probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19 will lead to quarantine of those in close contact with the individual in question.
• Masks or other facial coverings will be in use.
• Physical distancing will be practiced when possible.
• Regular hand washing will be encouraged.
• The number of shared items will be reduced.
• Enhanced cleaning and decontamination will be implemented.
• HVAC systems will be maintenanced and closely monitored to ensure maximum ventilation.
Daily Symptom Screening
In coordination with the Colorado Department of Education’s guidelines for a continuum of screening safety protocol, all Academy students and staff may be asked to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms each morning before arriving at school. In the case of the presence of any symptoms, families will be expected to keep their student home, inform the school, and reach out to a health care provider about next steps for treatment. Staff will be expected to follow the same process. If no symptoms are present, students and staff may attend school as normal, and no documentation or evidence of the daily screen is needed.
If students or staff develop COVID-19-like symptoms while at school, they will report to the school Health Clinic where staff will follow a process outlined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine next steps. Any time students or staff are sent home with COVID-19-like symptoms, the school will use a process outlined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine when that individual can safely return.
Full Remote Option
A temporary, full-remote learning option may be put in place if circumstances justify it. Full-remote classes will meet the following requirements, as set by elementary administration and approved by The Academy Board of Directors and the Charter School Institute:
- Definition of Instructional Time - The Academy defines “actively engaged in the educational process” as time when students are working toward achieving educational objectives under the supervision of a teacher, including: classroom instruction time, individual student work time while at school (including study hall and library research), school-related field trips, independent study, assemblies, instruction delivered electronically, independent remote work time for students that is directed and monitored by educators, and other school-organized learning activities.
- Bell Schedule Equivalent - The Academy follows a semester calendar structure. For each semester into which the student is scheduled as of the pupil enrollment count date, the equivalent teacher-pupil instruction and contact time is 25 hours per week for students in kindergarten and 27.5 hours per week for students in grades 1-5. During remote learning, kindergarten students will engage in the remote equivalent of 5 hours per day of on-site teacher-pupil instruction and students in first through fifth grade will engage in the remote equivalent of 5.5 hours per day of on-site teacher-pupil instruction. In grades 6-12, the equivalent teacher-pupil instruction and contact time is 55 minutes a day (on average) per course. Secondary students will be expected to “attend” synchronous or asynchronous classes aligned to that same time duration. Students will attend all classes remotely from home and be expected to follow the regular school day schedule.
- Remote Learning - To support remote learning, participating students will be assigned to a specialized, full-remoted teacher to provide remote instruction. This licensed teacher will be responsible for providing all instruction to the students who opt into full-remote learning. Elementary administration and the remote learning teacher will collaborate to provide instruction aligned with in-person learning as much as possible. Students who choose full-remote learning will have the opportunity to change to in-person learning at the semester break. Changes from full remote to in-person learning during the semester will be considered on an individual basis for students with extenuating circumstances. The Academy’s intention is to provide a full-remote option only until a vaccine is widely available to children under 12 years old.
- Teacher-Pupil Instruction for Remote Learning - Remote instruction will be delivered through Google Classroom, Freckle, Envision, Wonders, Lexia, Accelerated Reader, and Google Meet. Students will engage in synchronous learning led directly by the teacher through Google Meet at specified times throughout the week for math, literacy, social studies, and science instruction. Students will engage in asynchronous learning through Envision, Wonders, Lexia, Accelerated Reader, and Freckle on a daily basis. The full-remote teacher will also be available to respond to individual student requests for support on a daily basis.
- Attendance - For students participating in the full remote learning model, attendance will be based on participation in synchronous video sessions, completion of independent practice assigned through Google Classroom, parent documentation of completed work, and completion of lessons assigned through external online programs. Attendance will be recorded in PowerSchool at the end of each instructional day.
- Grading - In core subject areas (math, literacy, social studies, science), grades will be taken through summative assessments. Summative assessments may include but are not limited to: unit tests, independent classwork, and quizzes. Assessments will be given without accommodations or modifications except for students who have learning plans (e.g., 504, IEP, ELL). Zeros for missing or late assignments will not be included in grades for achievement. These assignments will be marked as incomplete with the expectation that the teacher will make arrangements for the student to make up the work or repeat the learning experiences missed.
Students attending Front Range Community College courses that are not taught on our campus will be expected to meet expectations set by FRCC.
The Academy’s goal is to provide a high-quality, equitable educational experience for all students that balances the needs of the whole person – health, safety, academic, and social-emotional. With that in mind, our student services team will work hard to ensure that all of our students who receive support services have a clear plan for success with flexibility when needed.
All students on an IEP will receive their services and accommodations. As usual, Special Education Providers will reach out to families throughout the year to discuss their individual students. Any changes to an IEP or increase in service minutes or time on campus will be based on each individual student and the IEP team will meet to determine the needs and services for that student. Parents also have the right to request an IEP meeting. If you have any questions, please reach out to your level principal.
- Service minutes will be met either in person with options for remote instruction or a combination of both.
- IEP meetings will take place by due dates and may be in person or remote.
- Any changes to an IEP, compensatory services, or evaluations that need to be completed will be on an individual basis based on progress monitoring and data.
- The Special Education Service Providers will collaborate and communicate with parents and general education teachers.
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
All accommodations connected to MTSS (Plans 504, READ Plans, English Learner Plans, Intervention Plans, and Advanced Learning Plans) will still be in place regardless of any public health precautions in place at a given time. The Academy’s student services team will continue to work with teachers, students, and families to collaboratively identify essential services for each student. Service plans may be adjusted as needed for the circumstances of the learning environment.
• Accommodations will be in place with an emphasis on in-person supports.
• Meetings will be held on an individual basis for any changes to a 504.
• 504 meetings may be held remotely or in person.
English Language Learners
• ELL services will be in place with an emphasis on in-person supports.
• ELL testing and progress monitoring will take place.
• Interventions for academics, behavior, and social and emotional needs will resume normal implementation to the greatest extent possible.
• Student progress will be monitored.
• Interventions may include but are not limited to online programs, small group instruction/strategies, one on one instruction, and work with a counselor.
• Parents will be informed of the MTSS process and will receive communication from the classroom teacher, coordinator or both.
• The MTSS team will meet regularly to review data and discuss students in the process.
• Read plan interventions will take place in small groups, one on one groups, or through online programs.
• Students on read plans will have their progress monitored.
• Parents will be informed of read plan status and progress.
Gifted and Talented/Advanced Learning Plans (ALP)
• Advanced Learning Plans will be created and communicated to parents by the GT coordinator at each level and/or classroom teacher.
• Classroom teachers will implement and provide instruction/opportunities in connection with ALP goals.
• ALP goals will be monitored by teachers and/or members of GT team.
Counseling & Mental Health
The Academy’s counseling team will continue to be available to support the mental health needs of all students. We recognize the particular importance of mental health services during these challenging times and will be working on plans for monitoring and supporting students accordingly. In addition, teachers will prioritize time spent on our social-emotional learning curriculum as a key element of whole class instruction.
The Academy will continue to promote and support student participation in athletic and activity programs to the extent permitted in 2021-22. We recognize that exercising and participating in activities like sports can be a healthy way for students to cope with stress and connect with others. We will continue to follow the guidelines from Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), our state’s governing body for activities and athletics to manage precautions throughout each athletics season. We will provide updates as they are disseminated to us from CHSAA.
The Academy’s leadership team will continue to closely monitor guidance from education officials as well as the evolving public health situation throughout the school year. Given the evolving nature of a pandemic response, we will need to stay nimble and be ready to adjust quickly in the event that changing conditions indicate the need to do so. We will communicate with the community whenever there are noteworthy updates to share. We will continue to use our school wide email list and our website as our primary means of communication.