Guest Column: Meeker School District

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Chris Selle

As the 2019-2020 school year has now ended, most educators would state it is the most unique school year they have ever experienced. I continue to be inspired by the adaptability of our students, parents, staff, and community. I am proud to be a Meeker Cowboy!

Specifically, I would like to thank the Class of 2020. For a variety of reasons, the last year of high school likely did not align with the expectations of our seniors. Nevertheless, we all could learn much from the flexibility they displayed this year. As an educational institution, it is our responsibility to prepare students for their chosen endeavors after high school. Despite the uncommonness of the past school year, it is my sincere hope that our seniors have now set their sights on what lies beyond Meeker High School. It is also my sincere hope they find appropriate closure to high school through our graduation event on June 6.

After that event, the Meeker School District will turn its attention to planning for 2020-2021 school year. There has been much information circulated via social media about what will be expected of schools next year. Some of that information is accurate. Some is not. If we have learned nothing else from the COVID-19 pandemic, we should have learned that conditions, plans, and expectations can change at a rapid pace. No one really knows what next fall will hold for schools. Anyone who claims they can predict conditions in place for schools next fall is foolish.

Nevertheless, we can plan for what we expect to see happen, while also planning for contingencies. That is what the Meeker School District will do. We know the learning that occurs in our classrooms cannot be replicated. Thus, we have an obligation to figure out how to get students back in classrooms as normally as possible. If the trend around COVID-19 cases in Meeker and Rio Blanco County holds through the beginning of August, our schools will likely operate in a relatively normal fashion in the fall. There will be a few common sense items we will need to put in place, but school will operate very similarly to how it did in the past. If the trend with local COVID-19 cases changes significantly how our schools operate in the fall could also change significantly. We will plan for those contingencies.

Based on local conditions, the plan will be to have kids back in classrooms full time in the fall. Despite different viewpoints expressed on social media, the only requirements for schools are those aligned with public health orders for the State of Colorado. Most of those orders will either expire or be amended by the time we go back to school. The remainder of the circulated information are guidelines and/or recommendations.

I believe we will have activities in the fall. However, I cannot predict the actions CHSAA will take. The feedback I have tried to offer CHSAA is that participation in extracurricular activities is of great value to our students. Additionally, it has always carried some risk of injury or illness. I have shared with CHSAA that I believe we should still offer that personal choice as long as we have communicated the risk to students and parents while also taking reasonable measures to help mitigate those risks.

Should community members have suggestions regarding our plans for the fall, I encourage them to contact me directly at chris.selle@meeker.k12.co.us or 970-878-9040. Currently, the school district plans to release its protocols to return to in-person learning for 2020-2021 no later than Aug. 3, 2020, with some draft documents available for review between now and then. In the meantime, I appeal to our community to offer the school district an extra measure of patience and grace. As has been stated numerous times in the last several weeks, these are unprecedented times. Planning is difficult and time consuming given the amount of unknowns. We are fortunate we have several weeks which will allow us to be thoughtful and intentional about the conditions necessary to return to in-person learning. Those conditions will rely on recommendations from local and state experts, but also be balanced with common sense and current information relative to our local context.

By CHRIS SELLE | MSD Superintendent