LOVELAND, Colo. — The Thompson School District in northern Colorado will start school two weeks later than scheduled, district officials announced this week.
A transition day for kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade will be held Aug. 31 with the first day for all other grades on Sept. 1. Only students in kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade will need to report for the transition day.
The district, like others across the area, plans to offer both in-person and virtual learning options for the 2020-21 school year, though full plans have not been finalized yet.
The district is also developing plans to cover the gap in food service during the two-week delay.
The Thompson School District includes about 17,000 students in Loveland, Berthoud and parts of Fort Collins.
Last week, Denver Public Schools, the state's largest district, announced a delay in the start of school this year, along with plans to begin classes virtually. Other districts, including Jeffco Public Schools, are planning to offer 100% in-person classes, beginning in August.
Local public health agencies and local school districts will have the ultimate say in when and how public school will resume this fall and will have to utilized layered COVID-19 mitigation strategies to try to bring as many students and teachers back to in-person learning as is feasible, according to guidance released Monday by Colorado education and public health officials.
The much-awaited guidance will give the district superintendents and school boards, as well as local public health officials, framework from which to work on their own plans as the school year nears. Several metro-area districts have already released draft or finalized plans for resuming school but have said they are subject to change as the school year nears.
Under the guidance issued Monday, there will be baselines that all schools and districts need to meet across the state. But the guidance also sets up a framework for local public health agencies to work within certain phases the state has used for COVID-19 responses and apply them to schools as well: a stay-at-home, a safer-at-home, and a protect-our-neighbors phase.
But districts will develop and approve their fall plans unless local public health agencies are required to approve them. The guidance was developed by the state with input from educators and districts, among several others.
For all public schools and especially middle and high schools, according to the guidance, 6 feet of physical distancing between people is preferred, though at least 3 feet is recommended – especially among teachers and older staff. Schools will also have to create a seating chart for students to sit in assigned seats as much as possible.