CA's COVID Response

We all play a part in protecting the health and safety of our CA Community.

Dear CA Community:

Thank you for your patience, confidence, and support for Colorado Academy as we have worked for the past several weeks to carefully design the opening of the 2020-2021 school year.
 
What’s best for students, based on age
We have tailored our plans for each division, with age-appropriate best practices and ones that employ current research around COVID-19 and its transmission. Our work this summer has included planning for multiple scenarios, the underpinning of which is the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and parents. Our hope is to support in-person learning as much as possible. To do so will require the disciplined engagement of every teacher, student, parent, and family member acting in the best interests of our school community. We also know we must be agile and nimble, with the flexibility to quickly switch to alternate teaching modalities on short notice.
 
Our goal is to re-open in ways that prevent us from having to shut down again. In other states and nations, we have seen schools move too quickly only to have to retrench. I know so many of our families want to be back immediately, But, there are very few workplaces in this nation that have all their adult employees back full time. We are not willing to experiment with the safety of our students and faculty. Therefore, with full support of our Board of Trustees, we are going to move methodically and intentionally towards getting our students back safely.
 
PLAN SUMMARY
  • August 18-24: Remote Learning for all grades
  • August 25-28: LS Modified CA Flex schedule; MS and US Remote Learning
  • August 31-September 4: varied CA Flex schedules by division
  • September 5-7: Labor Day Weekend
  • September 8: By this date, conditions permitting, all CA students are operating on the CA Flex model. (Note the 9:30 a.m. Upper School start, either in the CA Flex model or the On-Campus model.)
This division-specific, phased-in approach provides for greater safety should there be transmission, greater teacher comfort and experience with new technology, and a greater ability to orient students to critical health protocols. The remote start for each division also provides a uniform experience for all students to the start of the school year; we know of several families who have opted to participate in remote learning for an extended period of time. The initial time spent in remote learning will allow for cohesion as we get the academic program going again at CA. See a calendar version of the first few weeks.
 
The one- and two-week windows of virtual school are also intended to give all families time to isolate and quarantine. For Lower School families, we ask that you start immediately a 14-day effort of being disciplined about social distancing prior to when your students come to campus in our CA Flex model. Upper School and Middle School families should also redouble their efforts 14 days prior to the week of August 31. It will only take two positive COVID cases reported within 14 days to warrant “outbreak” status and possibly force closure. We all need to take this seriously so we can have our students return to campus.
 
Student groupings
The student body is arranged into two groups—the Mustangs and the Rockies—to allow for six-foot social distancing in our classrooms and throughout our campus. Those groupings define the location from which a student learns—either on campus or from home.
 
The many unknowns about how students might transmit the virus in a school setting makes us more cautious about a three-foot distancing model. While we know that having your children home every other day is going to be challenging, we as educators have to manage a very new reality of keeping students apart and safe. Reducing the overall number of students on campus at the start of the school will allow us to operate more safely. 
 
Safety Protocols
Please read the COVID Safety Handbook Supplement, which describes in greater detail how we will work together to navigate school every day. Please review it carefully with your children. Note that mask-wearing, hand hygiene, and social distancing are the required behaviors of everyone on campus. We know that if students, both on campus and off, can follow very simple steps, we can reduce the likelihood of an outbreak. We need to be disciplined.
 
FIVE THINGS PARENTS SHOULD BE DOING NOW
 
  1. Begin to limit your social activities and quarantine. This will mean a safer start to the school year.
  2. Ensure that you have signed your required forms through the Magnus portal, and that all student health records and vaccinations are up to date. If your child requires a health plan, please see that our Health Office has complete information.
  3. Notify your division principal by Wednesday of this week of you plan to take part in remote learning only and not be part of our On Campus or CA Flex schedules.
  4. Watch for these future communications: Bus information is coming to you via mail. All families who requested transportation should be able to be served by our bus program. Later this week, we will be able to provide more information about Middle and Upper School athletics based on CHSAA’s most recent guidelines. Division principals and department chairs will communicate with parents and students about picking up necessary supplies, books, and other materials. There will be additional information about available child care through our expanded Extended Day program.
  5. Review the COVID Safety Handbook Supplement.
 
I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important our safety protocols are, and how the participation of each and every member our community is vital to keeping our school open and to keeping our community safe. I firmly believe that if we all work together, we can maximize health and learning, and minimize difficult and prolonged interruptions to our school year. 
 
Our faculty and staff are truly excited to see the students. We are grateful for the trust that each of you places in us, and we look forward to safely navigating this year together.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Davis, PhD
Head of School
Colorado Academy

CA's COVID-19 Response

CA's COVID-19 Response Timeline

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • August 2020

    10

    CA announces its 2020-2021 Opening Plan that will begin in a fully remote fashion for one week for Lower School, and two weeks for Middle and Upper School, followed by a slow phase-in of bringing back partial groups of students, specific to each division.

    10

    The school releases its COVID Safety Handbook that describes in detail how the community will work together to navigate school every day.
  • July 2020

    7

    9

    The Horizons at CA program begins in-person learning on campus, implementing COVID safety best practices, including small groups, social distancing, and masks.

    16

    CA hosts a webinar with Head of School Mike Davis and parents to share plans for school, explain safety protocols, and answer questions.
  • June 2020

    1

    CA hosts virtual Continuations for Fifth and Eighth Grade students, complete with individual student tributes and photo essays capturing the year.

    4

    CA hosts a virtual graduation in the morning, and in the afternoon, the first- ever diploma parade.

    22

    CA begins to announce re-open plans, with three possible learning scenarios and a 9:30 a.m. late start for Upper School students for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • May 2020

    14

    15

    CA converts year-end events to virtual events, including Field Day, Alumni Reunions, Fifth and Eighth Grade Continuations, and Graduation.

    22

    Last day of remote classes for Upper School students. AP Exams are administered at home. Lower and Middle School students complete class by May 29.
  • April 2020

    10

    CA cancels student summer trip to the Dominican Republic.
  • March 2020

    4

    CA’s Global Exchange partner in Greece announces that the Greek Ministry of Education has banned school trips abroad until the end of this academic year, because of concerns over COVID-19. Thus, the inbound visiting group of students from Pierce College in Athens cancels its springtime trip to CA. Also cancelled this week, trips to Ecuador and Costa Rica.

    6

    A positive COVID-19 case is identified at another local independent school with close ties to CA. CA notifies its families on symptoms and closure protocols.

    9

    CA faculty and staff take part in the first training on the Zoom video conferencing platform.

    10

    CA cancels its Spring Break Upper School athletic trips. The school also cancels faculty and staff travel for professional conferences through April, and later, through the end of 2020.

    12

    CHSAA suspends sports competitions through April; Mock Trial State competitions are canceled.

    13

    18

    Colorado Governor Jared Polis suspends all in-person learning in Colorado schools through April 17.

    25

    Students “return” from Spring Break for virtual learning, with all 1,000 CA students participating in class via Zoom.

    30

    CA launches Emergency Tuition Assistance Fund, and by the end of the school year, raises $350,000 to assist families suddenly in need of financial assistance in the wake of the pandemic.

    31

    CA launches remote learning survey to gain feedback on use of remote learning.
  • February 2020

    18

    CA appoints internal COVID task force and activates the school’s Crisis Management Team of employees and division heads to address the multiple aspects of our response.

    26

    CA issues health reminders regarding hand hygiene to CA parents.

    29

    CA postpones a planned June trip to China as part of the school’s Global Travel and Exchange Program, as well as a previously scheduled visit of Spanish students from Madrid’s Colegio Virgen de Europa. CA finalizes plans for faculty training to switch to remote learning.
  • January 2020

    15

    The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U.S., carrying the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that first case in the U.S. on January 21.

    26

    CA reminds parents about children’s health, exclusion guidelines, and precautions surrounding COVID-19.

    30

    CA shares message with faculty, staff, and students about the celebration of Chinese New Year and the school’s intolerance of Anti-Asian racism.
  • December 2019

    16


    Doctors in China document admit a patient to Wuhan Central Hospital with a lung infection that was resistant to anti-flu drugs. Wuhan health officials later learn that a new coronavirus was causing the illness.

FAQs

List of 14 frequently asked questions.

  • What if someone in my family or I test positive for COVID-19?

    Reporting on COVID-19 exposure and testing is essential to our CA community. You must self-report your status if you fall into any of the following groups:
    • You have had prolonged contact of 10 or more minutes, in close proximity of 6 feet or less, with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • You are under quarantine by direction of a public health agency or medical provider, and/or awaiting test results for COVID-19.
    • You have been informed by a public health agency or a medical provider that you have tested positive or are presumptively positive for COVID-19.
    • You believe you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
    If you fall into any of these groups, please take the following steps:
    1. Let your division principal know immediately.
    2. Follow the recommendations of the public health agency or medical provider, which will likely be to follow CDPHE guidance, and self-quarantine for 2 weeks, if you have had prolonged contact of 10 or more minutes, in close proximity of 6 feet or less, with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    1. Submit your self-report to your local public health agency. Colorado Academy is required to report to Jefferson County Health. If needed, Jefferson County would handle contact tracing to help limit the spread of the virus.
  • What will the policy be if there is a positive case during school? Will the entire school be closed or just a portion? How long will the closure last?

    In the event of a positive case, we work with our public health experts to determine the size of the possible exposure. With minimum exposure, we might only be closing for a short period of time for cleaning. If a broader exposure is suspected, the Jefferson County Public Health Department might indicate a longer closure. Either way, there would be recommended testing and extensive contact tracing to minimize transmission. For this reason reporting positive cases immediately helps prevent spread of COVID-19.
  • Will masks be required? If so, will the blue/paper masks work?

    Yes, masks are required. Students are allowed to wear the paper masks, but they are designed to be thrown away at the end of each day, so cloth masks will reduce costs and waste. CA will be providing a starter pack of lighter weight masks called BioMsk that are designed to be washed up to 10 times. Others have also asked about buffs. We are asking that students wear these only for athletics as they are usually just one layer of fabric. Cloth masks should be at least two layers. Our CA Bookstore will also carry a supply of masks in different sizes.
  • Will CA provide masks?

    We recommend that students bring two clean masks to school with them each day. As a start, CA will mail home a starter kit of BioMsks with NBELYAX nanomolecules, designed to prevent contagion from pathogens. These masks are reusable and washable up to ten washings. Masks will also be available at CA if needed, and for sale in the CA Bookstore.
  • What will CA's calendar look like?

    Our revised 2020-2021 calendar is posted on the website. We are beginning school a week early to build in added flexibility, as well as to provide for additional orientation and training for students about new campus procedures during the pandemic.

    If the local, state, or national situation warrants, our learning scenario at the beginning of the year could be all students in person on campus, all students learning remotely until we are able to bring children to campus, or a mixture of the two. We know from our surveys that parents, faculty, and students prefer in-person learning and teaching, but we will remain flexible given the circumstances. We will prioritize student learning as our top in-person and on-campus priority; whenever possible, we will hold parent or adult meetings virtually.

    Schedules for each scenario and division can be found here:

  • Why not just stay with the six-day rotational schedule?

    We designed the new plan for educational continuity based on feedback from all community constituents as well as information from educational and health experts. We believe the five-day plan is built on the greatest flexibility and accounts for the most consistency possible if and when we need to shift to a different learning scenario. Given social distancing restrictions, transportation and other issues come into play, as well.
  • Will we have athletics in the fall?

    In announcing the fall schedule, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) moved high-contact sports, including Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball, and Girls Field Hockey to the spring of 2021, saying these traditional fall sports are unable to be played under current state health guidelines.
     
    CHSAA is allowing sports with greater social distancing, including Boys Golf, Cross Country, and Boys Tennis to continue. The sports played this fall will all be concluded by October 17. In addition, CHSAA modified the 2020-2021 season into four (A, B, C, D) seven-week seasons. 

    Please read this message from Head of School Mike Davis for additional details about how athletics will work during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • How will performing arts be handled this coming school year?

    Performances and gatherings are an important part of our arts program. Because of COVID-19, we know our shows and performances will look different during the 2020-2021 school year. We will be following the directives of our local and state officials, as well as the guidance of the National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Association for Music Education to determine what our safest practices will be for our performers and our supportive audiences. Those organizations have released the following recommendations:
     
    • Until tested mitigation techniques are proven effective, live indoor group or ensemble singing should not take place. For CA’s Middle and Upper School music performance classes, instruction will focus on Music Theory, Music Technology, Music Composition, and other non-performance-based music education.
    • Practice social distancing in music classrooms.
    • If providing in-person, indoor instrumental ensemble experiences, teachers may focus on chamber music with smaller groups of students due to social distancing constraints.
    • If school performances are permitted, they may be streamed online without live audiences.
    • Social distancing protocols, as directed by local and state health departments, should be followed for student performers and good instrument hygiene practiced. 
  • How will the bus work?

    CA requested bus sign-ups early this year, and the Transportation Office is creating routes and schedules in an effort to serve as many families in need of bus service as possible. The school must take into account public health guidelines for transportation. Thus, we may only be able to serve a portion of our usual bus ridership. Families will be notified as soon as possible. 
  • What will recess look like?

    As always, students will be outside for recess, weather permitting. We will reduce the number of students engaged in recess activities at any one time and to allow for the monitoring of social distancing. Any equipment will be cleaned between uses.
  • How will lunch and snacks work at CA?

    Social distancing guidelines will limit the numbers of students that can be served in the Dining Hall on any given day, so some students will be provided with sack or box lunches.

    We ask that students not bring their own lunches due to management of severe and sometimes life-threatening allergies among some students on campus.

    Weather permitting, students will picnic outdoors. To minimize contamination via high-touch areas, salads will be pre-made, and students will be served by Dining Hall staff.

    Students will be encouraged to bring their own water bottles to use during lunch. Self-service areas will be removed. Dining Hall menus will be posted and will also be available via app or QR code.

    Dining Hall staff and teachers/advisors will continue to work with families and students with allergies or dietary restrictions. 
  • How will the Flex groups be assembled?

    Flex groups are being assembled based on a number of factors including families that have more than one child attending CA. Groups will be communicated to families as soon as possible.
  • Will students be assigned lockers?

    To avoid crowded areas in the hallways in Middle and Upper School, students will use backpacks and not lockers. Rolling backpacks are allowed. Lockers will be used in Lower School, and students will access them in staggered groups to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 
  • Will there be policies about the safety/use of shared supplies—textbooks, handouts, etc.?

    Yes, there will be a reduction in the number and kind of materials that are shared. Items such as computer stations will be cleaned between each use. For other materials, students may have their own “sets” or “kits” to use to reduce the possibility of the spread of infection. In Middle and Upper Schools, families can expect supply lists and book ordering information in July/August. CA will provide all supplies for Lower School students.

FAQs

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • If CA implements the Hybrid "FLEX" approach, will you ensure that siblings attend in person on the same days?

    Yes, definitely. There will be two Flex groupsā€”Mustangs and Rockies. Students in the same family will be in the same group.
  • What if I have concerns for someone’s mental health during this pandemic?

    We know that Colorado Academy is a close community and that you all care for each other, so if you know someone who may need additional support, or you have a concern about something happening in regards to COVID-19, please contact your division principal or school counselor, or Head of School Dr. Mike Davis. Additional resources are always available, including the statewide Safe2Tell hotline. https://safe2tell.org/ or 1-877-542-7233.
  • How will students work together and teachers help students under social distancing guidelines?

    All of the distancing requirements will apply to both teachers and students, and will adhere as best as possible to local, state, and national health guidelines. Research continues to show that social distancing is one of the tools that accounts for reduced transmission of the coronavirus. Adapting our progressive, often collaborative, classroom practices and routines will be one of our greatest challenges as teachers in the 2020–2021 school year. We will all be engaging in professional development regarding this challenge during this summer.
  • What is the OWL technology?

    Colorado Academy is installing enhanced technology for every classroom to facilitate multiple modalities of instruction, including 360-degree OWL cameras that connect to our existing Zoom video-conferencing platform and provide images of a classroom, as well as camera tracking based on voices in the classroom.

    We are also working with multiple camera set-ups to enhance remote teaching for courses including arts and sciences. Whether we are on a CA Flex schedule, or whether students must be at home due to illness or quarantine, this technology provides a bridge between the physical and remote learning environments. While we believe that in-person learning provides the best experience, this technology allows students to participate, regardless of location, and to access learning from a web-enabled computer, tablet, or phone. 
     
  • What if my family is traveling in August?

    If you are traveling out of the country or are visiting a current U.S. COVID-19 hotspot, we ask that you share that information with your division principal.
  • Have we checked on the “plastic/acrylic” shields that can surround individuals while in schools?

    We are aware of and investigating all possible solutions and materials to ensure the health and safety of our employees and students, including the transparent cubicles that German and South Korean schools have designed for their classrooms.

State of Colorado Response Phases & Public Health Orders

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Masks required in Colorado

    Colorado Governor Jared Polis has issued a statewide face mask order effective at midnight on July 17, 2020.
  • Stay at Home

    Everyone is required to stay at home except for grocery shopping, exercise, and necessary activities. Only critical businesses can open.
  • Safer at Home

    While we are all still safer at home, we are also able to practice greater social distancing outdoors than in confined indoor spaces. Many businesses are open with restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect those at highest risk for severe illness.
  • Protect Our Neighbors

    The Protect Our Neighbors phase is the next phase after the Stay at Home and Safer at Home phases. In order to enter Protect Our Neighbors, communities must qualify by meeting scientifically established thresholds to:
    • Lower disease transmission levels;
    • Treat patients and handle the surge in need for intensive hospital care;
    • Conduct testing and effective case investigation, contact tracing, and outbreak response. 
    In the Protect Our Neighbors phase, we must continue to support and provide protections for those who are most at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, and those over the age of 65. This is the least restrictive phase before lifting further restrictions with the availability of a vaccine.
     
    Our community should be prepared for state and local public health orders to be extended, amended, or changed as needed to protect public health. This means we may move between the different levels during this pandemic. In all efforts, we must underscore for parents that our work is aimed at mitigating transmission and minimizing risk, not eliminating it altogether.