Lone Tree goes all virtual after Thanksgiving break

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In a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 16, the Lone Tree School Board decided to move classes fully online following Thanksgiving break. Middle and high school students will finish this week with in-person instruction and move online for the last two days before Thanksgiving break, Nov. 23-24. Then, when the district returns from Thanksgiving Break, all students K-12 will receive online instruction from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 and return to in-person classes on Monday, Dec. 14.

“There are a lot of factors trending in the wrong direction right now in an exponential growth pattern that we haven’t seen,” said board member Michael Hotz.

While the middle and high school will technically be entering a hybrid model of education before Thanksgiving, it will look different than the district’s previous hybrid plans. State guidelines define hybrid as receiving in-person instruction 50% of the time in a two-week period, so giving the students in-person instruction for the week of Nov. 16 allows them to move online Nov. 23-24 and still fulfill the requirements for a hybrid model of education. This is important because it allows the middle and high

school students to move online before the clock starts on the district’s two-week waiver to move online following the holiday break.

Several board members agreed that the largest risk of increasing COVID-19 infections and absences would occur immediately after returning from Thanksgiving break, when students have potentially gathered with family and others from outside their households. The board hopes that moving online for two weeks will mitigate some of that risk.

“Our goal is to not bring everyone back into the building for two weeks so we can stop an outbreak,” said board member Joe Williams.

Extracurricular activities, including sports, cannot hold meetings, practices or competitions while the district is fully online, but because the middle and high school will technically be in a hybrid model before Thanksgiving those activities can occur over the holiday break.

As of Monday, Nov. 16, the district had zero students absent because of a positive COVID-19 test and 49 students in quarantine. Additionally, three staff were absent due to positive COVID-19 tests and another nine staff members were in quarantine.

Administration had allowed three quarantined staff to return to work during their quarantine period provided they would be temperature-checked and screened for symptoms twice daily, when arriving to work and at the end of the day. But the board voted unanimously that teachers put into quarantine must remain in quarantine for the full recommended 14 days.

Of the 49 students currently absent due to quarantine, about 35 of them will return to school by Thursday, allowing them a short time to be back in the classroom before moving back online.

During the Lone Tree School Board’s regular meeting on Nov. 11, Christina Magruder was reelected as president of the board and Michael Waldschmidt was reelected as vice president. The regular time for meetings was also changed from 6:30 to 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

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