Yuma School District-1 is entering 2021 looking at how to continually improve instruction during a pandemic, and look forward to moving past it.
“What I see for early 2021 is some review of what has worked and what hasn’t,” Superintendent Dianna Chrisman said. “We will continue to look for short-term solutions to various issues, but we will also start looking at what instructional impacts last spring and this past fall have had on student achievement and begin planning to strategically close gaps.
It has been nearly a year when COVID-19 first impacted the area. Chrisman said the entire staff has done an amazing job adapting to ever-changing guidelines and new instructional practices and expectations.
The superintendent said the district is looking forward to resuming athletics and activities in 2021, but added there still are many unknowns about social distancing impacts on spring activities, which also include such events as prom and graduation. “We know there will be bumps in the road as we move forward.”
The state economy and the budget impacts are a main focus while moving into 2021.
Chrisman stressed that the district is grateful to the community for passing the bond issue for the $32 million expansion/renovation project. She explained that it has freed the district from having to use budget funds to address facility issues.
“With those issues being rectified with the project, we are sitting in good position to be able to respond to any budget shortfalls that may come from the state,” Chrisman said. “As is usual, we will be following the legislative session closely and will plan accordingly for any legislated changes.”
And of course a major focus for 2021 will be the building project, which should be about completed by the end of the year.
The 2021-22 school year will start after Labor Day in order to maximize time over the summer. Chrisman said the community can expect a slightly non-typical calendar. The plan is to have the approved calendar completed in February.
Steel for the new wing is scheduled to start going up later this month, and will continue to progress over the next several months. Crews already are renovating the band and art area. The plan is to have the new wing, and the art and band area, completed this summer. Those areas then will be used in the fall semester as the work turns to renovating the current classroom wings.
The entire project will be completed in January 2022.
Therefore, it is going to be an exciting 2021 for YSD-1 for several different reasons.
Educators and other “frontline essential workers” in education are being given an opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccination soon, after everyone in Colorado’s Phase 1A and 1B who wants to get the vaccine has taken the shot.
Yuma-1 Superintendent Dianna Chrisman said the district is coordinating with Yuma District Hospital & Clinics for those wanting the vaccine. She staffers who have expressed an interest will be contacted by the hospital when their turn comes along.
Currently there is not a concrete timeframe when that will occur. However, the hospital is recommending the school employees send their contact information in order to get on the waiting list.
Heath Horton, a FNP at YDH & C, told the Pioneer the facility still is vaccinating individuals in the 70-and-older group. He said the hospital is doing 150 vaccinations this week, and did a total of 100 last week, adding that vaccine appointments are filled up through January 19. There more than 330 people 70 and above enrolled for the vaccine, and Heaton said the staff is working hard to get all of them scheduled as soon as possible.
YDH CEO Beth Saxton, RN, added that the hospital is focused on coordinating with the Northeast Colorado Health Department’s Yuma office on when that location has vaccination clinics to augment community access to the vaccine.
As for those in education, the state also is coming up with a “at-home” testing option for educational staff.
According to a press release sent out on January 6, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has developed a new at-home COVID-19 testing program for teachers, staff, and selected students at participating schools. The program is intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools by allowing symptomatic and exposed individuals to get tested quickly and easily. If teachers or students are symptomatic, they should stay home. The program is also designed to facilitate more regular testing, especially for teachers and staff who are frequently in close contact with others as part of their jobs.
Colorado is one of three states with early access to the home-use BinaxNOW program. CDPHE has contracted with a digital health provider, eMed, to provide BinaxNOW home test kits for use via a virtually guided telehealth session. At-home testing reduces the staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and reporting burden on school health officials and is more convenient for educators and students. Results are available within 15 minutes of collecting a nasal swab sample. Individuals age 15 and older may collect their own samples with assistance from the eMed proctor, while children age 4-14 may have samples collected by an adult.
Teachers, staff, and selected students at participating schools and their parents or guardians will be able to use a web portal to order tests, which will then be shipped directly to their home. Testing will be conducted via a telehealth remote proctor session and the proctor will report the results to local public health and CDPHE. Additionally, CDPHE will make kits available for school distribution.
CDPHE is working to make home BinaxNOW tests available through the end of this school year to all districts and private schools that opt into the program. Public school district leaders and leaders from charter, private, and parochial schools who are interested in participating should complete a short survey regarding their testing plans. Interested districts and independent schools should submit only one response each. This data is essential to the state’s planning strategies and will enable us to obtain and distribute resources as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Additionally, the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center continues the distribution of masks for teachers at public, charter, and private schools through the end of the 2020-21 school year. To date, the state has distributed 2,440,750 KN95 masks to schools. Districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), charters, public schools, and facility schools will be given the opportunity to receive a combination of KN95 masks and surgical masks. Information on how districts can opt in will be coming soon from Colorado Department of Education.