Showing My Work on Back To School

I know many parents are facing the same decision as our family.

Background – my main job for the next 18 months is stay healthy, love my family and educate my kids. When COVID clears up, I can sort everything else.

Location – we live a half mile away from CU Boulder. The university administration will shortly welcome back 30,000+ students, during a global pandemic. ~40% of those kids come from out of state. ~6,000 students live in our zipcode.

Community Transmission – it’s been rolling all summer.

Our positives have moved from our at-risk population to our younger residents. There’s plenty of hospital capacity.

same source as above, orange is long-term care facilities

Testing has been coming back 96% negative since the start of June. This is great news as our actions are misaligned with our words. With social distancing and masks, we talk a better game than we are executing. Collectively, we are not acting like COVID is a serious situation.

Taking all of above together, our district will be reopening in late-August with a hybrid model. For the full details go HERE and click “Level Three.”

Basically, every Monday off and the other four days are split between at-home (2 days) and at-school (2 days). Kids will be placed in cohorts to reduce mingling and staff will limit their interactions with the cohorts.

Positive test results will trigger 14-day at-home periods by cohort, or school, to be determined.

Testing expected to be offered to staff on a 14-day basis, aiming for 2-day turnaround.

Paywall article in our local paper.

We have a great school district by the way => lots of smart, dedicated adults and kids.

Here is an extract from a note I sent the head of the School Board…

With 30,000+ CU kids returning, and testing on a 14-day cycle, I don’t see how we catch the outbreaks early. Off-campus transmission, in the 20-something age group, seems likely to lift the City of Boulder community spread. We might not see that in the numbers until after Labor Day. Denver’s decision to combine a delay with two-weeks online makes sense for City of Boulder schools. This is an observation, not a criticism of the Phase 3 reopening plan.

Cohorts make sense to me. It wasn’t clear to me if cohorts, or schools, were going to be moved to online-only after a confirmed positive. With each confirmed positive, please consider shutting the whole school for 14-days. Shutting schools will be an inconvenience early in the year but you will find out quickly if you avoided a much larger outbreak. I see avoiding large outbreaks as fundamental for keeping the BVSD in-person system operating.

As a family, we greatly appreciate the option to start online with our neighborhood school. We’re going to start online: (a) to reduce in-person class sizes and let teachers focus on the kids who have fallen behind; (b) to support teachers, who wish to work online-only; and (c) to eliminate the risk of disruption from rolling closures, which appear inevitable.

We’re going to wait until the end of the summer to make our final decision.

Our local situation is fluid and the district might be forced by external circumstances to change their plans.

Personally, I want to pull back the time that COVID took away from me. Going in-and-out of school openings/closings will cause more hassle than the benefit we get from sending kids back for a couple in-class days each week.

Most importantly, I have a guiding principle… if ruin is avoidable then avoid it. If I get sick, even mildly, it is a large hassle for my family. If I die, or get long-term disabled, then it’s a disaster for them.

The district is offering me a option to reduce my risk of ruin. My premium is foregoing two-days a week of in-class instruction. Properly framed, their offer is very attractive.

Their offer is online support four days a week, that’s a big increase from our summer school plan where we had to organize everything. In the “time of COVID,” the online-only offer is good enough to meet my objectives for my kids, while helping me work towards a personal goal of “get sick later”.

My kid objectives are easily achieved within the framework of online school.

  • Girl, nearly 8, going into Grade Two => reading, spelling and intro to times tables
  • Boy, 9, going into Grade Four => just keep him ticking over, Summer School got him where he needs to be for post-COVID (hopefully) Grade Five
  • Girl, nearly 12, going into Grade Six => #1 stay busy! Home school without outside support doesn’t work for her, or me. Continue with essay skills, start Grade Seven math, intro to basic sciences.

Overall, I’m brainstorming at-home modules the kids can do.

#1 // Each kid picks a scientist and teaches the family about them — create a huge white board about the person and dress up (as the person) for the presentation. If this goes well then pick a country and do the same. That gets me to Halloween (or beyond) and I can figure out 2021 later.

#2 // Duolingo for kids on iPad. We’ve had a couple false starts with Spanish as an after-school activity. A little bit each day might enable the (very) basics to get into their heads.

#3 // Teach the kids to uphill, and nordic, ski. Dropping the significant costs associated with resort skiing (especially seasonal accommodation) is a simple way to create space in the family budget for extracurriculars and supplemental schooling.

#4 // Create a board game the family can play.

The kids have told my wife that it’s OK for me to be the Home School principal but they don’t want me teaching!

I’ve always been respected for my project management skills.

People skills, less so.