We are just about a week away from the start of the new school year and the team at STEM couldn’t be more excited. On Wednesday of this week was the first day back for several of our Leadership and Administration Teams. Monday we will be welcoming back our new teachers for a two-day orientation and onboarding process. We will then welcome back our returning teachers on Wednesday for the remainder of our Professional Development Week.
On Monday, Aug. 9, we will welcome back our newest students to STEM for our annual Spartan Launch event for grades 1-12, while our Kindergarten Spartan Launch will be on Tuesday and Wednesday. All of this is to gear up for the first day of school on Tuesday, Aug. 10. We are so excited to welcome everyone back.
Please be sure to read through the weekly newsletter in order be as prepared as possible. Our Back-to-School Hub is being updated regularly with all new information. To help all of our families get back into the swing of things, we will be holding Parent Information Sessions next week (August 2-6) from 12-1 p.m. via Zoom, covering specific topics. Please check the STEM All-School Calendar for more information.
Staying Prepared for Possible COVID-19 Updates
Now that we have enjoyed summer unmasked, what will Colorado public school requirements be on August 10th? It is too early to know given the almost daily reversals in policy. We learned last year that mask-wearing, hand washing, and frequent hand sanitizing reduced the overall incidence of transmissible infections such as flu, colds, strep, and other school nuisance infections. Why not continue another year?
We are a premier academic school by any measure. We do not want to be pulled off-course with any unnecessary battles that often fall along political lines. As a public school, we must adhere to mandates imposed by the Colorado Governor who works with the Colorado Health Department and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). All have agreed to have a uniform message for public schools in Colorado regarding Covid protocols. STEM will follow all Colorado and federal mandates.
What we know so far is that the state has focused on promoting local control, turning COVID protocols over to the local health departments, while also honoring local control for individual schools. Unless otherwise communicated from us, below is the current practice:
- Mask wearing will be optional for students and staff.
- We will honor parents’ choice for masking their own child (without comment in either direction).
- We will inform you if your child has been exposed to someone with COVID, however, quarantining will not be required.
- We will not require vaccinations for students or staff.
- Parents must keep sick students at home. Symptoms are defined in the parent/student handbook. Students with symptoms at school will be sent home.
- We will continue to focus on frequent handwashing and hygiene practices.
- We will continue to apply common sense protocols to keep everyone safe.
As a charter school, we have the autonomy to make our own decisions within the guardrails of state and federal laws. Plans, decisions, and changes made by the school district may not be what we follow. If any decisions differ from what DCSD does, we will communicate to our families.
STEM attracts the most diverse families. Ethnicity, religion, income, beliefs, and so much more. The fewer barriers STEM imposes, the more we can stretch to expectations. We are asking our families to please be flexible as mandates could be imposed by the Governor as school gets underway.
My personal choice will most likely be to wear a mask when visiting classrooms this school year as I noticed that I enjoyed not having any colds or typical school-related illnesses last year. Hospitals reported an incredible drop in severe asthma and flu cases last year and many are attributing that to the use of masks.
STEM will continue to enforce the state mandate that no adult or child can be admitted into the building with symptoms of illness. This predates COVID and will continue to be strictly enforced. We understand the hardship this places on our families but it is necessary to protect all children and staff from potential contagious infections.
Enjoy the last days of summer and we can’t wait to welcome back our students on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Happy last days of July,
P.J. Eucker PhD
“Summer afternoon…to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James