Update from the STEM Board of Directors

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A Message from the STEM Board of Directors - Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,

Your STEM Board of Directors is committed to the success of STEM School Highlands Ranch, which includes meeting the needs of our students, families and our staff. We understand that fostering an environment where our whole community’s needs are met and valued is crucial.

Over the last week, we have received survey data from our staff, families and our students, as well as input from various STEM advisory and leadership teams. Looking at all of the data as a whole, and taking into consideration the recommendation from Dr Eucker during the BOD Working Session on November 21, your BOD has decided to move forward with her recommendation to transition to Virtual Learning, starting on Monday, Nov. 30, through the end of the first semester

While we believe that STEM has done everything it possibly could do to provide the safest environment for our students and staff in these very difficult times, we want to recognize that continuing to provide in-person, while COVID numbers are increasing, will put an increased strain on the operations of the school. The Leadership Team has made every attempt to secure outside substitute teachers from all available outlets, but was recently informed that due to the on-going Pandemic, not all substitute teachers are trained in the safety procedures that are needed in order to operate safely. Therefore, we believe that continuing with in-person learning would leave STEM in a vulnerable position that we cannot support.

We would like to take a moment to provide our sincerest apologies for the manner in which the swift decision to not follow DCSD was made. These are unprecedented times that have resulted in quick decisions being made and we felt that we needed to provide our entire community with a timely response. Please know that it was not an entirely uninformed response, however, it did not involve all of our stakeholders.

Due to the recency of the decision, the Board directed Dr. Eucker to explore options for our K-5 families in need of a place for their children to access virtual learning from school. Dr. Eucker was also instructed to seek CARES Act funding for families in need to subsidize the cost of BASE. She will begin working on these directives immediately and will provide additional information on the implementation of these as soon as possible.

For the 140 STEM families who rely on STEM for lunch, the location for free weekly pick up will be posted. 

We understand that this is a quick turnaround and truly apologize for any inconvenience. Additional information will be provided by STEM’s Communication Department on logistics and next steps over the coming days.

Sincerely,

Rukez, Nicole Smith, Roy Martinez, Ramesh Thatavarthi, STEM Board of Directors

P.J. Eucker PhD, Executive Director

A Message from the STEM Board of Directors - Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,

STEM School Highlands Ranch has been tremendously successful in keeping students and staff safe during a global pandemic. Students need to be in school when possible. The stress of exclusive-virtual learning is cumulative as we learned last spring. Finding the balance between delivering a quality education STEM is known for, and keeping students and staff safe and healthy has been achieved this first semester. What does the future hold?

DCSD has 65,000 students. Decisions made for a large suburban district are far more complex than for one campus. Several DCSD charters made the bold move to 100% in-person learning Monday-Friday starting in early August. STEM approached the return to school this fall far more cautiously to build confidence that we have the ability to keep students and staff safe with specific procedures and requirements in place guided by health professionals, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as well as the Colorado Department of Education. 

The STEM Board of Directors and the STEM Executive Director believe STEM can continue to maintain a safe environment to learn through the end of the first semester, and hopefully spring semester as well. The STEM community has been tremendously responsive to our collective dependence on every member following the guidelines to keep all safe with a highly infectious virus. 

As of now, STEM will continue to offer in-person learning on its current schedules, unless the Governor mandates otherwise. We understand that there could be future positive COVID-19 cases where some will have to quarantine and we have full confidence in STEM’s Leadership Team that they will handle those cases as safely as possible.. 

Families always have the choice to remain 100% virtual for the 2020-21 school year. Our K-5 families have the option of fewer than four days of in-person instruction. Our goal is to create the safest working environment for our staff, while also maximizing options to meet the needs of our individual families.

Thank you for your continued dedication to keeping STEM a safe place to learn in person.

Sincerely,

Rudy Lukez, Nicole Smith, Roy Martinez, Ramesh Thatavarthi, Michael J Green

STEM Board of Directors

P.J. Eucker PhD, Executive Director

What Guided Our Decision

COVID-19 DATA AT STEM

As of November 12, STEM has had four isolated positive student cases with potential exposure to students and staff which has resulted in a total of 205 quarantined students and 36 quarantined staff. The first two required quarantines resulted in zero cases, while the most recent quarantines are still in progress.

Cases at STEM:

September 2 – Middle School

October 2 – Middle School

November 11 -Elementary & High School

November 12 – Elementary School

STUDENT SUPPORT FEEDBACK

We have 40 secondary students who are currently benefiting from our 4-day option for students who are on learning plans and struggling. Currently, we are offering the 4-day option to any student on an IEP, as well as students on 504/RtI plans who are failing one or more classes. We have seen many of these students on learning plans be able to raise their grades and better access their classes by utilizing the 4-day option.

GOVERNOR’S GUIDANCE

On November 11, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in accordance with Governor Jared Polis, shared a report that outlined the following “…public health data that reveals that, in general, schools have been able to mitigate the disease by implementing school guidance. Strategies such as cohorting, mask wearing, and disease investigation seem to be working to prevent school outbreaks. Students in grades K-8 are at a lower risk for in-school transmission than high school students.”

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