Looking Forward Back to School 2021-2022

Looking Forward Back to School 2021-2022




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September 7, 2021

Dear DCSD Families,

I hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing Labor Day weekend.

As you know, last Wednesday the Tri-County Health Department implemented a new Public Health Order requiring facial coverings to be worn by all individuals age 2 years and older, regardless of vaccination status, in all school and child care settings. I want to thank our families, especially those of our 7th-12th graders who made the quick transition to mask-wearing last week.

At this time, the Tri-County Health Department has public health jurisdiction over DCSD, as such, DCSD is obligated to follow the mask-wearing requirement under the Public Health Order.

We recognize there is a lot of conflicting information out there about the contract between the Tri-County Health Department and the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. Although the Board of Commissioners have publicly stated they are moving to separate from Tri-County Health, the contract between those entities is currently still in place and the Public Health Order is still in effect. Given that the Tri-County Health Department presently has the legal authority to issue Public Health Orders, DCSD is obligated to follow their mask-wearing requirement.

Over the summer we certainly could not have predicted that we would be back to a place where masks were required in schools once again. This was not our desired state. However, if we reflect on where we were a year ago, we have still come a long way. Last year our students were not only wearing masks, but were in and out of in-person learning due to multiple quarantines. In addition, schools and grade levels were transitioned from in-person, to hybrid, to remote learning and back again. Events such as athletics, student performances, dances, etc. were postponed or even cancelled. It was a stressful time for students, families and staff with a lot of unknowns and uncertainties about what learning platform students would be in from day to day. It seemed everything was dependent upon the quarantines, exposures and COVID data.

We started off this school year pretty close to a pre-COVID normal. Students have been able to be in the classroom with their friends and educators. Events such as athletics, dances, student performances, fundraisers, etc. have been able to occur. Visitors are once again welcome in school buildings and parents are once again able to attend Back to School nights, PTO meetings, etc.

We have heard some unfortunate stories about students and visitors refusing to wear face coverings in buildings. As the Public Health Order is new our school leaders and teachers are doing their best to remind and educate about the need for face coverings. It is expected that students and visitors will wear their face coverings indoors as required by the Public Health Order.

Face Coverings for Students
Mask wearing will be required indoors and managed in a developmentally appropriate manner (we will have different expectations for two-year-old students compared to middle school students). We will work with families to address medical exemptions.

If a student refuses to wear a face covering, and does not have a signed medical exemption from mask wearing, we will have no choice but to implement stricter enforcement of the Public Health Order in our schools. Enforcement includes school-based consequences in alignment with the DCSD Student Code of Conduct. Continued refusal to comply with mask requirements could result in a student being transferred to remote learning.

Face Coverings for Visitors
It is expected that any visitors to DCSD school buildings (including parents/guardians) wear a mask while inside the building. Should a visitor refuse to wear a mask, they will not be permitted in the building.

Why is DCSD Taking Mask-Wearing So Seriously?
When we have students, staff or visitors in buildings without face coverings we risk increasing COVID exposures in our schools. Should an outbreak occur in a school, the Tri-County Health Department could direct DCSD to quarantine or move to remote learning a class, team, grade level or even entire school. Wearing a face covering is the one thing students of all ages can do to help prevent a wide-spread quarantine. Students ages 12 and over can also access the COVID vaccine to help further prevent outbreaks and wide-spread quarantines.

It remains important that we do everything in our power to limit the number of positive COVID cases in our schools and keep our students in in-person learning. By following the Public Health Order, continuing to implement our layered COVID mitigation protocols (including mask-wearing indoors), and increasing the number of fully vaccinated people in our community, we hope to avoid going back to the worst case scenarios that we experienced last year. We are also hopeful that if we follow the Public Health Order, the Tri-County Health Department will allow the Order to be amended or lifted by the December 31, 2021 expiration date, if not sooner.

We empathize with the varying emotions regarding COVID mitigation protocols in our schools. However, as we have previously communicated, our goal is to keep our students and staff safe and in the classroom for in-person learning. I ask and encourage each of us to step up and come together to follow this new Public Health Order. I know that together, we can keep our students in the classroom where they have the best access to a high-quality education, as well as critical social and emotional resources.

Sincerely,

Corey Wise
Superintendent
Douglas County School District




Vaccination Options for Students


Please visit the Resources for Families page for information on COVID-19 vaccination options for students 12 years of age and older.


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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, complianceofficer@dcsdk12.org, 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.