The Salida school board officially approved extending cancellation of in-person classes until April 17 in a special virtual board meeting Friday conducted via internet.

The move comes in response to Gov. Jared Polis’ directive to cease in-person instruction until that date throughout Colorado.

Other actions approved by the board included:

  • Electronic school board meetings. Under unusual circumstances the board may temporarily approve a policy to meet emergency conditions.
  • A resolution to grant the superintendent emergency powers per Colorado Association of school boards recommendation.
  • A donation of $20,000 to the emergency response fund managed by Chaffee County Community Foundation.

Superintendent David Blackburn said he intended to continue his response to current conditions in the same manner he has practiced thus far. Because this week would have been the regular spring break, he will not issue daily updates via the district website this week.

Blackburn said the meal program begun last week will continue throughout spring break week, including the weekend.

The $20,000 donation is the district’s response to the economic crisis for many workers in the area. Several other private and government entities have contributed to the fund to help those who may not be working and earning during COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We must do anything we can to support our Main Street workers and businesses at this time,” the board stated.

During discussion, Blackburn said staff has been involved in discussions about distance modality learning alternatives after spring break and hopes to have something in place for March 30-April 17.

Distance learning focus will be on English/language arts with emphasis on reading and writing skills, and math. Some staff will be reassigned during this time to tutoring roles. All staff members will be making phone calls to check in on kids and offer family support.

Blackburn also raised the possibility of summer school for grades kindergarten-12 as well as instruction in August prior to the new school year to help fill in learning gaps created by the current situation.

Blackburn said he is awaiting news on waivers for teacher evaluations and high school graduation requirements. He said he is not concerned but is looking for those waivers and guidance from Colorado Department of Education.

He said distance learning and project-based learning will probably be used for high school credit.

Blackburn said the special education team has been making a special effort to stay in contact with their students, and school counselors have been touching base with students they are concerned about.

For resources and district information about COVID-19 and schools, visit salida.ss13.sharpschool.com.

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