Weekly Superintendent Update, Jan. 14

Weekly Superintendent Update, Jan. 14
Posted on 01/14/2022
Photo of Diana Sirko

I want to start off this week’s letter by highlighting two very special people from Central High School. Trey Downey and Kimberley Flynn were honored guests of the governor at yesterday’s State of the State address in Denver. They were invited to the address due to their hard work to ensure our community had access to food through the Warrior Wellness Wagon and access to COVID immunizations through vaccination clinics at which students volunteered before many of them even qualified for vaccinations themselves. We are so proud to see their dedication to Central, our community, and our kids highlighted for all the state to see!

COVID Update

Mesa County is experiencing record numbers of COVID-19 cases. My leadership team and I continue to monitor the three factors that will help decide whether school mask protocols can be scaled back starting Feb. 7 (one-week average positivity rate below 5%, one week cumulative incidence rate below 100, and no more than 1 new hospitalization per day, with a seven day trailing average). Currently, the county is not meeting any of the above benchmarks. If they are still not being met, protocol changes will be reconsidered on a weekly basis until proper conditions can be met to safely make changes. Our primary objective is to keep staff and students safely in school. As we have done all along, we highly recommend wearing masks, as it does slow down the spread of the virus. We currently have 9 schools which require masks due to their rate of infection for COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant. I did hear from Jeff Kuhr at Mesa County Public Health today that State Modeling of the Variant shows that it may reduce significantly by Feb 15. We can help that by wearing masks and following safety protocols.

Student and staff health and wellness are key to having a welcoming learning environment and maintaining in-person learning. While we do not plan to return to remote learning, the Keeping Schools Open Plan does say a decision could be made to move to remote learning if schools cannot be properly staffed due to COVID or non-COVID-related absences and sub availability (click here and scroll to the bottom to read this information online). 

I know you’ve heard this many times, but it’s always worth mentioning that physical distancing, hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, knowing your COVID status (positive or negative), and wearing a face covering (preferably a KN-95 mask or better) can help slow the spread of COVID-19. These will significantly reduce the number of schools in masks and decrease your child’s chance to become ill.

I also want to remind our families that typically during a school break, as we have next Monday and Tuesday, when students are together outside of school, we often have a strong surge of illness when everyone gets back. Please be aware of this and practice the safety protocols mentioned above.

We also ask parents and spectators who are attending athletic or other school events to be respectful to staff who are following the required protocols as we often hear about situations where that is not happening. We know you are all growing weary of the Pandemic, but remember that staff members, either at one of our schools or another district’s, are simply trying to do their job and keep our activities going!

Graduation Rate Goes Up!!

On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Education released graduation and dropout rates for all districts. While our goal is always to graduate every student prepared for college, careers, and life after high school, there are celebrations in this year’s data. While the state average dipped slightly, our graduation rate increased year-over-year for the second consecutive year, going from 79.6% for the Class of 2019 to 80.2% for the Class of 2020 up to 81% for the Class of 2021. This is due in no small part to District 51 being the largest school system in Colorado to remain open throughout the 2020-21 school year. The hard work you - our students, staff, and families - put into keeping us open last year and this year made a huge difference in student achievement and engagement.

Bond Executive Committee

Thank you to those of you who applied for a seat on the Bond Executive Committee for the Grand Junction High School building project. Applicants will be rated and ranked anonymously by committee members, and new members will likely be selected next week.

A reminder that there is no school on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There is also no school on Tuesday for middle and high school in-service and elementary planning.