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Boulder Elementary School is aiming for a Sept. 2 start date, with a preference for a cohort learning plan, according to Superintendent Maria Pace. 

Masks are currently being recommended, but Pace also wants feedback from parents. 

Pace presented a draft reopening plan Monday to the Board of Trustees, which includes a total of four types of learning options based on the reopening phase the state is in for COVID-19.

With the state in Phase 2, the options are a blended or cohort learning plan — the former being the style required by the state and the latter being another alternative. If the state reverts to Phase 1, or there is a positive case at the school, then the school will switch to remote learning.

Pace explained the difference between the blended and cohort plans, and has created a draft document she plans to send to parents. 

“Our new normal will look completely different,” she said. 

A blended plan has 10-15 students in a room and at the school about 50% of the week — meaning a schedule of alternate days or morning and afternoon sessions.

Because Boulder Elementary is small, it may be able to follow the blended plan and still have students in the school every day with a modified start and end times for each grade level, according to the draft. 

The cohort plan calls for larger student groups in the school five days a week with a ‘schools within a school’ approach for the lower grades and block scheduling for the older students, according to the draft.

A ’school within a school’ means grouping two classrooms together who share recess and lunch times and who move through the building as a unit.  Block scheduling calls for longer class periods to reduce the mixing of students, according to the draft.

Most of all, Pace is looking to create a defined schedule so parents and families know what to expect and can plan accordingly. 

If a student or teacher tests positive for the virus, the school will close for three days, possibly longer depending on the situation, and learning will switch to the remote style. 

The remote learning plan could also be an option for students with medical conditions or families who do not want to send their children back to school, according to the draft. 

To facilitate the fluidity needed during this time, Pace said the school has purchased Chromebooks for all students, and those will not be shared. 

The fourth plan is basically a return to a pre-COVID-19 environment, with some limits on large gatherings such as lunch and recess, and will be implemented if the state moves to Phase 3, according to the draft. 

Sandy Hays with Harlow Transportation said that the plan is to have no more than 50 students on a bus at one time, with all wearing masks. She said more information on how the bus situation would work would be made available later this week. 

Visitors will not be allowed in the school building, according to Pace.

Pace said there are still many questions and details to work out and she is planning to have a final draft worked out by Aug. 1 and to the Trustees for approval by Aug. 10. The current draft will be sent out for parents to review by the end of this week, as well as a parent survey. 

“Schools are the heart of the community and people really want us to get back to some sort of normal,” said Pace. 

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