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A free PK-12 school of choice located in Westminster, CO

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Covid-19 Response

INTRODUCTION

The Academy of Charter Schools is excited to return to a full, in-person instructional model for all grade levels to start the 2021-22 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 facilitate in-person learning in a reasonably safe manner with the correct public health precautions in place. 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 in our planning to start the school year with a full, in-person learning model, The Academy’s leadership team still feels it is important to note that a change in any of the criteria that informed our decision-making may require us to adjust our approach for temporary periods. As a result, this pandemic plan may be adjusted based on newly available data and guidance from education and public health officials. This document is designed to serve as a complete, one-stop source for all details related to The Academy’s pandemic-related operations during the 2021-22 school year. It will be updated as appropriate and continuously available to our community on the school website. 

The Academy’s strength comes from its community. I can’t express strongly enough how much the support and love we have received from everyone has meant to us throughout the pandemic. I know this has been and will continue to be a scary and frustrating time, but we will get through it together. While we will always put the needs of students, staff, and families first, the circumstances we are facing are far from ideal and it will be difficult to accommodate every single piece of input. I appreciate your ongoing grace and understanding.

With Gratitude and Respect,

Brent Reckman
Chief Executive Officer
The Academy of Charter Schools
 

Public Health

The Academy will continue to collaborate 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. More details on their guidance for schools are included in the appendix of this document. As students return to the classroom, important safety protocols will be in place to limit exposure and transmission of COVID-19. These will 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 will be expected to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms each morning before arriving at school. We ask families to complete this screening daily using the At-Home Symptom Screening guidelines included in the appendix of this document.

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. That process is described in the Child or Staff Feels Unwell guidelines included in the appendix below. 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. 
 

Academics

Overview

The Academy’s reopening plan addresses students in three distinct groups: Pre-K, Elementary (K-5), and Secondary (6-12). This differentiation gives The Academy space to respond to the differing developmental, academic, social, scheduling, and public health needs across the age spectrum.

Pre-K Details

The Academy’s Pre-K program will open the school year with a full in-person schedule. Pre-K will not offer a remote learning option. In the event of a school closure due to public health protocols, weather, or other emergencies, the designated days will be considered non-instructional.
Increased precautions in Pre-K will include:

•    Daily health screenings.
•    Hand washing before entering the classroom, before eating, after using the bathroom, and anytime students are observed touching their nose or            mouth.
•    Reduced usage of shared materials.
•    Increased cleaning and sanitizing of bathrooms.
•    Limitations on visitors and volunteers to the classroom.
•    Face coverings are required for students and staff.

Elementary: Kindergarten – 5th Grade Details

The Academy’s Elementary program will open the school year with a full in-person schedule. A temporary, full-remote learning option will be in place for a limited number of students with health needs that make attending in-person instruction more challenging until vaccines are widely available for children. In the event of a school closure due to public health protocols, weather, or other emergencies, the designated days will be considered non-instructional. Increased precautions in Elementary will include:

•    Daily health screenings.
•    Increased hand washing.
•    Reduced usage of shared materials.
•    Daily cleaning and sanitizing of classrooms and bathrooms.
•    Face coverings are required for students and staff.

Full Remote Option
A temporary, full-remote learning option will be in place in grades K-5 for a limited number of students with health needs that make attending in-person instruction more challenging until vaccines are widely available for children. Information about this full-remote option was shared with returning families last spring and with new families as they enrolled. In order to ensure sufficient staffing for full-remote classes, there was a deadline of August 1, 2021 to opt into this choice. In order to document proof of Colorado residency for full-remote students, The Academy will ask families to complete the relevant form provided by the Charter School Institute.

Full-remote classes 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.

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. 

Secondary: 6th-12th Grade Details

The Academy’s Secondary program will open the school year with a full in-person schedule. Due to scheduling and logistical obstacles as well as low demand, Secondary will not offer a full-remote learning option. In the event of a school closure due to public health protocols, weather, or other emergencies, the designated days will be considered non-instructional.
Increased precautions in Secondary will include:

•    Daily health screenings.
•    Increased hand washing.
•    Reduced usage of shared materials.
•    Controlled hallway traffic flows during class changes.
•    Daily cleaning and sanitizing of classrooms and bathrooms.
•    Face coverings are required for students and staff. 

FRCC Students
Students attending Front Range Community College courses that are not taught on our campus will be expected to meet expectations set by FRCC. 
 

100% Remote Learning as a Method of Last Resort

The Academy does not expect to implement a 100% remote learning model during the 2021-22 school year. However, if pandemic circumstances leave no other choice, we will be prepared to resume the school wide remote learning structures implemented for the final two months of the first semester in 2020-21. 

Chromebooks and Internet Access
Students will have the opportunity to borrow a Chromebook if they need it to complete remote learning at home. This will allow for each student to access the cloud based tools that the school will be utilizing now and into the future. Similarly, The Academy recognizes the need to support some families with internet access. We will do our best to identify and support families that lack adequate home internet access, including providing mobile hotspots and/or structured access to the building to utilize the school’s Wi-Fi.

Attendance
For students in grades K-5, 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.
Students in grades 6-12 will attend the majority of their classes synchronously. To provide some flexibility for both teachers and families, lessons will always be available asynchronously as well. At certain times throughout the week, asynchronous coursework will be assigned in lieu of attending a live-streamed session. Due to this variance in structures throughout the week, teachers in grades 6-12 may take daily attendance through three possible methods:

•    Beginning of class “roll call” method.
•    Submission of a short task or exit ticket following the completion of the assigned classwork.
•    In the event that a student is unable to attend in “real time” due to technological difficulties or other barriers, parent documentation of completed          assignments. 

Teachers are expected to take attendance in PowerSchool for all their classes no earlier than 3:00pm and no later than 4:00pm each day. Students submitting work after 4pm and prior to midnight (11:59pm) of the same day will be initially marked absent that day but have their attendance rectified within one week.

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.

Grading
In K-5, grades in core subject areas (math, literacy, social studies, science) 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. 

In 6-12, grades will be recorded following each level’s individual grading policy as would apply in a typical year. Grades are recorded in PowerSchool with the basic expectation of at least one grade recorded per week per student. Grading is expected to remain consistent regardless of the type of schedule chosen by the family or the type of course (core subjects versus electives). Late work, retakes, absent work, and all other subheadings of the grading policies will remain the same.

The Academy will continue to meet all state assessment obligations throughout any remote learning period.

Teacher-Pupil Instruction for Remote Learning
Remote instruction will be delivered through Google Classroom, Freckle, Envision, Wonders, Lexia, Accelerated Reader, Zoom and Google Meet. Students will engage in synchronous learning led directly by the teacher through Zoom or Google Meet at specified times throughout the day and/or week for all courses. Students will engage in asynchronous on an as-needed basis to supplement live lesson. Teachers will also be available to respond to individual student requests for support on a daily basis.
 

Student Services

Overview

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 is working hard to ensure that all of our students who receive support services have a clear plan for success this year with an emphasis on typical, in-person instructional practices with flexibility when needed.

Special Education

All students on an IEP will receive their services and accommodations. As usual, Special Education Providers will be reaching 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.

504
•    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.

Intervention Plans
•    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 Act
•    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.
 

Athletics & Activities

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 have already opened up summer workouts for high school athletic programs while following Centers for Disease Control guidelines to protect players, families, and our community. 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.

Communication

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 this pandemic, 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. We will share prompts to check these spots via the Flyer App and the school’s official Facebook page any time there is an update. Please monitor these closely throughout the school year.

Appendices