Return-to-School Plans

Video Presentation (7/31/20)

Frequently Asked Questions

Topic: Return-to-School Plan (08/05/20)

The Return-to-School Plan was created by a teacher committee and members of our leadership team. They took into account the feedback from parents, staff, community members, the Douglas County School District and more. To see more about how the plan was developed, please view this Return-to-School Video Presentation or the Return-to-School Plan PDF Slides.

Moving away from 100% In-Person for the time being was not an easy decision. We understand that the Return-to-School Plan may not fit for everyone, however it is the safest plan that we could put together that met the needs of all of our stakeholders to the best of our abilities. While this is our plan to start the school year, our goal is to eventually get us back to full time in-person learning as soon and safely as possible.

We are committed to following DCSD guidelines as much as possible and when it is in the best interest of STEM.  If DCSD does return to five days or in-person learning, we would definitely try to do the same. For the time being, Friday Virtual days are in place to allow our teachers to create instructional content, plan for the coming week, grade and provide feedback on assignments from the current week, meet with grade-levels, conduct assessments and more.

All students will be Cohorted, regardless if their Academic Plan is Hybrid or 100% Virtual/Online Learning. This is done so that students know which days they will either be doing  In-Person Learning  or Virtual/Online Learning. This will also allow for flexibility for families to move between both Academic Plans if their needs change. If a student opts for 100% Virtual/Online Learning and then chooses to attend In-Person, they must attend on their assigned Cohort days. Families will be notified of their students cohort the week prior to Orientation via an IC message. We will cohort siblings together and will do our best to align students in the same carpool to be in the same cohort.

Example of how cohorts will be created

In the communication home to families about their student’s cohort, a link to a form will be included for families who would like to request a change. At this time, a change can only be made if there is a need for childcare, carpool or medical reasons.

Cohorts will be announced the week prior to Orientation week.

Our Teacher committee felt it was best to have students in-person on consecutive days, rather than the every-other-day schedule that DCSD was putting together. They believed that this would provide more consistency between In-Person and Virtual/Online Learning.

Hybrid students will receive their services on the days that they are here at STEM; 100% remote students will receive services via zoom. Teachers are being provided with guidelines on how to provide the accommodations needed for each student.

ALPs will be handled just like any other year. Students will have goals and be progress monitored towards those goals throughout the school year. Students will also receive differentiated instruction/coursework within their classroom. 6-12th graders on ALPs are grouped into Gifted and Talented (GT) advisements with their GT advisor to receive weekly check-ins and support.

Students should be able to access AP and CE curriculum through either model. All AP/CE courses will be fully accessible for hybrid and remote learning.

Some CE courses, such as P-Tech and computer hardware courses, may be more meaningful and engaging via the hybrid model, but they will be accessible for remote learners, as well!

Students will receive their schedules prior to Orientation Week. Students will be notified of when they can access their schedules, as well as how and when they can make changes.

Yes. Our teachers created both plans to allow for as much flexibility two switch between the two as possible. We ask that you communicate with your teachers if your needs change and they can then share the next steps.

Yes. Teachers will be teaching both In-Person and Virtual/Online Learning for their students. All teachers are STEM teachers.

Topic: Return to Learning (08/05/20)

STEM Start is the new name for Kindergarten Orientation Week. STEM Kindergarten Students will attend in-person or online for one small group session (8-10 students)  either Monday, Aug. 17, or Wednesday Aug. 19 in person. If you selected 100% Virtual/Online Learning as the Academic Plan for your student, they will attend their session via Zoom on Tuesday, Aug. 18 from 12-1:30 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 17 Schedule:

  • 8-9:30 a.m. – Group 1
  • 10-11:30 a.m. – Group 2
  • 12-1:30 p.m. – Group 3

Tuesday, Aug. 18 Schedule:

  • 12-1:30 p.m. – Group 4: 100% Virtual/Online Learning Students ( Zoom Session)

Wednesday, Aug. 19 Schedule:

  • 8-9:30 a.m. – Group 5
  • 10-11:30 a.m. – Group 6
  • 12-1:30 p.m. – Group 7

Please sign-up for one session using the  STEM Start Sign-Up form by Thursday, Aug. 13.

Students will stay with their group for the session, but will interact with all three teachers and instructional assistants.  This will allow teachers, instructional assistants and students an opportunity to build positive relationships, receive an introduction to a new environment/routine, and collect informal data to assist in classroom placement. The data collected will assist teachers in making targeted and individualized instruction decisions.

Kindergarten classroom placements will be made on Thursday, Aug. 20.  All parents will receive an email introduction to their teacher that evening.

Please bring your child to the sandbox by the Elementary School entrance 5 minutes prior to their start time, wearing their mask (please pack an extra mask) and send them with a water bottle that is labeled with their name on it. No backpacks are needed. We will walk the students back to the sandbox for pick-up at the end of their session.

Students who are 100% Virtual/Online should only complete their Orientation on Friday. They do not need to do an in-person orientation.

Students who are 100% Virtual/Online should only complete their Orientation on Friday. They do not need to do an in-person orientation.

Lunch will not be served during Orientation Week.

CE students who are fulltime off-campus are not required to attend orientation; however, it is recommended that they attend a virtual orientation session on Friday so that they are aware of changes at STEM in the event that they come to campus for any reason this school year.

CE students who are parttime off-campus and take at least some classes at STEM should attend orientation.

New students to STEM who will be entering secondary are invited virtually to learn about STEM Student Expectations, Culture, and an introduction to Canvas, our online learning management syhttps://stem. Participation in Spartan Launch will help prepare all new students for their first in-person and virtual school days the week of August 17th.

Secondary Spartan Launch Virtual Options:

  • Session 1: Tuesday, August 11th @ 12:30-1:30pm: Zoom Link
  • Session 2: Tuesday, August 11th @ 2-3pm: Zoom Link

Elementary Supply information can be found here. Details for distribution of supplies for both Hybrid and 100% Virtual/Online Learners will be shared in the coming days. We are hoping to distribute student supply kits next week. We are waiting on the arrival of certain items. Hybrid students will receive one supply kit and it must stay at school. Grade levels will share information about what they must have at home for their online learning days.

Secondary Supplies include a laptop and charger for all students. Students may also need a notebook, pencil, and pen. Individual classes may have additional needs that will be shared by the teacher during orientation week.

The Specials teachers will push into classrooms. When possible, PE will occur outside.

CareerWise is still functioning and Mike Shallenberger and Gregg Cannady are working to place students in internships. Some opportunities are remote and some are in-person.

Topic: Health and Safety for Staff and Students

Facemasks will be required for all students and staff unless a Dr’s note has been provided to the school nurse indicating that a facemasks interferes with a medical condition or affects learning. You can find out more about the DCSD mask guidance here.

Families should reach out to school nurse Karen Lewis (karen.lewis@ for updated guidance on this.

In the Fall, we purchased a hospital-grade sanitizing machine to disinfect high-traffic and commonly touched surfaces to assist in the prevention of the spread of germs. This machine has been in use throughout the summer and will be employed to clean classrooms and other areas in the school. Additionally, we have hired and are still hiring, additional custodial staff to assist with cleaning high-touch areas throughout the school during the school day.

The school will be cleaned each day, as well as undergo a deep clean each Friday when students and staff are conducting Virtual/Online Learning. Touchless hand sanitizing stations have been placed throughout the school and teachers are being provided with additional sanitizing equipment for in-class purposes.

Signage is visible throughout the building to promote visual enforcement of social distancing and best practices. Entrances have high-speed thermometers as well as hand-sanitizing stations that everyone must use when entering the building. Anyone who enters the building must complete the at-home screener in advance and also be wearing a mask. Secondary classrooms have been reconfigured to keep students six-feet apart and we have modified our lunch hours to accommodate social distancing while eating. 

To see the latest guidance information from the local and state health departments that STEM is following, click here to access our COVID-19 Information Hub.

We have in-house substitutes and Instructional assistants that will be available in the event we need assistance for a teacher who is either in isolation or quarantine. Additionally, we have contracted with an outside substitute teacher company to assist with finding teachers when we cannot secure them through the DCSD syhttps://stem.

While requests have been made by our School Nurse for this to take place, there are no plans on conducting COVID-19 testing at the school. Free testing sites can be found through this website.

Topic: Technology

We have a limited number of Chromebooks available for check-out. Please complete this Sign-Up form to request a Chromebook. The IT Department will be in contact with those who have signed up, with instructions on how to pick up.

Please reference this Laptop Requirements document for specifics from our IT Department. 

The expectation for students in grades 6-12 is to bring their laptop with them when they are coming to school for in-person learning.

The expectation for students in grades K-5 is that STEM will have technology in the classroom for students to use when in-person, and the family should provide the technology for when the student is at home completing Virtual/Online Learning.

Kindergarten students use IPads during their time in the classroom. We recommend that they have access to either an IPad or a Tablet when they are at home to complete their Virtual/Online Learning.

Topic: School Calendar, Attendance, Visitors, Enrichment, Athletics and More

We have not received any word from DCSD that any breaks will be moved. As soon as we hear of any updates to the calendar, we will share that with our families.

Attendance will be taken for each period regardless of whether a student is in person or virtual. Please reference the Attendance policy via the Student/Parent Handbook for more information on attendance/absence procedures.

If a student is not feeling well, and it was supposed to be their in-person learning day, they will complete their work as a Virtual/Online student.

Please reference the Attendance policy via the Student/Parent Handbook for more information on attendance/absence procedures.

If a hybrid student is ill on their In-Person day, we ask that you please communicate that with the teacher and follow the normal attendance process outlined in the Student/Parent Handbook. This will assist us with knowing who is in the building and not. The student can do their work virtually from home.

On Tuesday, Aug.4, we were made aware that the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) had made adjustments to the 2020-21 interscholastic athletics and activities calendar.  The 2020-21 season will be played with a modified sport schedule due to the on-going global pandemic, creating four separate sports seasons during the school year. What we know as of today is that boy’s golf, which began on August 3, and cross country, which will begin on August 12, will continue as normal. Cross Country will have slight modifications to their schedule. Seasons for all other athletics will begin in the new year.

For those families who have already paid for Fall Sports (soccer, volleyball and cheer/spirit), a full refund will be issued. Families can register again as we head into the new year.  To read the complete news release from CHSAA, click here. We do not anticipate these changes to affect our CHSAA application. If you have any questions, you can email dan.hoffman@ or anna.magle-haberek@

Students will have lunch in the cafeteria and sit at the recommended distance from one another. Our plan is to limit it to about 35-40 students and then move a class or two outside, if necessary.

Students will still have recess and brain breaks. The EAs and IAs will work with Coach B to offer games that do not require contact, but have movement.

As of right now, yes; the district has not waived the community service requirements for current seniors.

Message from Dr. Eucker (7/31/20)

Over the summer, STEM School Highlands Ranch planned for multiple contingencies as information developed on how to best keep children and adults safe. COVID-19 continues to baffle experts. Our Draft Academic Plan that we shared a few weeks ago was developed after taking into account all of the feedback we received from our families and staff. .

On July 25, DCSD opted to begin the school year with two days of in-person and three days of virtual per week. STEM administration and teacher leaders grappled with the various models. As with any decision, there will be challenges. Parent surveys let us know that a little less than half of STEM families prefered full return to in-person instruction with options for virtual and hybrid. Faculty and staff surveys revealed safety concerns that are common across the United States.

The decision was made to start the school year by wading in, instead of a full dive by, adapting components the DCSD plan with STEM innovation. This will allow students, staff, faculty and parents to build comfort as we monitor the health of students and adults. About 25% of our families have indicated they wanted  Virtual/Online Learning exclusively and about the same for a hybrid model. Each student will be assigned to a cohort and all will receive daily instruction either virtually or in-person.

In-person learning was suspended during spring break last March, so the return to school will be anxiety inducing for some. Our mental health resources are always available.

STEM is working with BASE to provide affordable childcare options for students in grades K-5.

Once confidence is built and health is maintained, STEM hopes to return to a full in-person option as soon as possible. Details of how we will move forward  will be fully explained for K-12. The virtual and hybrid option will remain a choice throughout the 2020-21 school year.

We all are excited to welcome back our families!

P.J. Eucker PhD

Executive Director