Upper Rio Grande School District releases back-to-school plan

DEL NORTE- According to a statement made by Upper Rio Grande School District Superintendent Chris Burr, which was published on the school’s website, released a preliminary plan for the return to school this fall.

“The start of school is fast approaching, and we are very much looking forward to renewing our commitment to provide the very best learning environment for our students. The Upper Rio Grande School District will offer two options for the upcoming school year, and we will be returning to school as scheduled Aug. 24. Our school-based option will be as close to normal as possible, given the possibility of State rules and regulations at that time, and our online option will include the ability to receive an education 100 percent from home, while still having access to teachers from the URGSD, as well as teachers from our online partner.

In addition, we are taking unprecedented steps to ensure our physical environment is safe from harmful contaminants of all kinds. Our new school is already equipped with an HVAC system capable of cleaning the air to the highest standard possible outside of a hospital. We currently use MERV 13 filtration, which is the highest standard short of HEPA. Our system has designed capabilities that can move large amounts of fresh air into and throughout the building. Our goal is to provide close to outside air quality, while maintaining indoor temperature comforts for students and staff. The state-of-the-art design and functionality of our HVAC system has also allowed us to consider adding components that will capture and remove microscopic organic material such as viruses and allergens. The URGSD Board of Education approved the purchase of this new addition to the system which will effectively help clean the air of viral contaminants.

The Upper Rio Grande School District is committed to providing our community with real, feasible, and truthful information and ideas. The measures we are taking to protect students and staff are going to help mitigate illness, both now and in the future. Every year schools deal with student and staff illness, from the common cold to very bad strains of strep and flu. We would hope everyone understands the school district cannot guarantee that students and staff will avoid sickness, and we will not give you a false sense of security or lead you to believe that there is a solution that will make us all perfectly safe.

Much more information is included in the details below. Please feel free to call or email with any questions. This is an initial plan, and everyone should expect many changes between now and Aug. 24.”

The preliminary plan is as follows:

The in-person learning option will be as close to “normal” as allowable. As you know, rules and regulations change by the day. Upper Rio Grande will follow State regulations regarding required safety measures when opening school, and we will strongly consider guidelines and suggestions. We will do our best to remove politics from our decision making process, and to do what is best and feasible for our students. The most controversial topic is that of wearing masks. Currently, wearing a mask while indoors is mandated by the Governor of Colorado for all persons over the age of 10. If the State order is lifted prior to school beginning, mask wearing will be optional for both students and staff. We will also make reasonable efforts to socially distance when it is feasible and does not detract from the learning environment.

Option 1 - All students will be enrolled in our online system, to better prepare for possible closures due to new rules, regulations or illnesses. This means that learning will continue uninterrupted during any time of closure or absence.


Option 2 - Online learning at Home, sponsored by Upper Rio Grande SD:

Upper Rio Grande will be partnering with Colorado Digital Learning Solutions (CDLS) to provide options for online student learning. Students can choose to stay home 100 percent of the time and will be able to complete coursework alongside their in-person classmates throughout the school year. Students may choose to come to school for in-person classes, as well as take online courses when the class they want or need is not offered by the school. If Option 2 is initially selected, parents will have until Oct. 1 to change to Option 1. After that date, Option 2 students must remain in Online classes for the remainder of the year. Students may change from Option 1, to Option 2, at any time throughout the year (with the knowledge that they cannot return to Option 1 after Oct. 1).

Detailed Information on Cleaning and Disinfecting

URGSD has put a lot of time and thought into the daily cleaning and disinfecting of our building and grounds. Our maintenance staff is prepared to insure the highest levels of cleanliness, both during the day, and after school hours.

URGSD will be hiring a nighttime cleaning crew to clean and disinfect all classrooms every evening after-school. This crew will complete a touchable surface, floor, and bathroom cleaning in every room that has student involvement during normal school hours. The task will be completed at night so that there will be no disruption to teachers and students.

We have purchased two bathroom carts with the ability to wash down and apply disinfecting solution in half the time of normal manual cleaning. URGSD also has the resources to use an Electrostatic sprayer/ fogger to disinfect all surfaces including classrooms, locker rooms and bleachers to name a few. These units ionize solution particles to fog a large area giving the particle the ability to stick on, in and under any surface. We also purchased a portable high pressure (hot water) disinfecting machine, to clean all exterior areas and surfaces including, but not limited to playgrounds and outdoor sports facilities.

Hand Sanitizing stations will also be available throughout the building for all students, staff and visitors. Multiple stations will be placed in classroom hallways and team centers, as well as many other gathering areas and high traffic locations.

Our custodial crew will perform all the daily functions of cleaning and disinfecting without disrupting students and staff throughout the day. Along with the daily functions, they will be ready with all necessary equipment and supplies to act in a timely manner to any kind of possible situation which may occur, related to a cleaning or disinfecting problem.


Other Plans related to student safety and well-being:

As we move toward the beginning of the school year, and as staff begins to return to work, we will refine other plans associated with student and staff safety. Questions such as how we will respond if/when a student or teacher becomes ill, or how we will appropriately limit visitors, along with many others, will be discussed, refined, and communicated to the parents and public at the appropriate time.


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