2021-22 School Year FAQs

Schools open with in-person learning

Information was updated Jan. 3 and is subject to change.

Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Larimer County Department of Health and Environment have not yet released updated school-specific COVID protocols but did release updated protocols for the general community. PSD, in partnership with Thompson School District and Estes Park School District, communicated interim COVID protocols on Dec. 31. If the agencies issue new, school-specific guidance, PSD will evaluate those, in consultation with health officials, and communicate them to the PSD community.

2021 protocols 

Students are expected to follow the three W’s when in school: Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands.

Masks required in PSD schools and buildings

Masks are required for students, staff and visitors in PSD schools and buildings. Masks are not required outdoors. Staff are required to wear masks even when students are not in school.

  • PSD's priorities are safety and keeping kids in school, to provide a dynamic learning environment for students and minimize quarantines. 
  • District and school leaders will continue to work with and follow guidance and orders from public health officials to meet evolving health and safety requirements and to implement district COVID-19 protocols at all schools and sites.
  • ​Families will be informed of changes or clarifications to this protocol as public health conditions evolve. PSD is committed to re-evaluating its universal masking protocol at least quarterly.
  • More information about masks is below in the Masks/Face Coverings section. 


General Questions

Are activities, extracurricular activities and athletics available in the 2021-22 school year?

Yes. These opportunities are available and in place at schools with protocols.


Nov. 10, 2021 mask update:

  •  All athletics teams are required to wear masks during indoor practices and competition with the following exceptions:  
    • Swimmers should not wear masks while swimming. Masks must be worn during dryland practices, while on the pool deck, and in locker rooms.  
    • Wrestlers may remove masks during 1-on-1 grappling. All other times, masks must be worn.
    • Gymnasts, dance, and cheer should remove masks when performing tumbling and stunts.    

In-person learning questions

  • When all students are in in-person learning, will my student still use a district-issued laptop or device at home? Yes, any student could potentially be shifted to remote learning if there is a COVID-19 case, following district protocols. Therefore, students will continue to use their district-issued devices in-person and at home. 
  • How many students are in each classroom? There is no districtwide maximum for the number of students permitted in each classroom; this number varies from school to school and classroom to classroom based upon school layout and square footage. Following district protocols, staff and students will maximize social distancing. 
  • How do lunches work? Students at all schools can eat in cafeterias. Each school maximizes distancing as much as possible (i.e. utilizing seating charts or cohorting students to the extent possible, etc.). 
  • What about lockers? Secondary students can use lockers.

Field trips and overnight trips

  • For the first quarter, overnight trips that involve cabin or dorm-style (ex. such as Eco Week cabins) accommodation are not approved.  
  • Secondary overnight trips are considered on an individual basis.
  • Field trips are allowed depending on transportation availability.
  • No out-of-state trips for the first semester. In November, trips will be reevaluated for the spring.  
  • International travel is approved if scheduled through EF Tours. Any new international trip planned for 2022 should be planned with EF Tours.  

Visitors at PSD schools

Visitors (parents and volunteers, etc.) must wear a mask at all times when in PSD schools and buildings. When outside, masks are not required.

School assemblies, dances and events at schools

School assemblies are allowed with masks, three feet spacing and assigned seats. If a school is in outbreak status, six feet of distance will be used.

Events and dances:

  • Event plans are submitted to the school principal for approval. 
  • Dances are approved to take place outdoors only. Guests from other schools are permitted to attend. 
  • During events, mask requirements will be followed. When possible, distancing guidelines will be followed.
  • If the event is catered, food items will be individually packaged (not self-service or buffet style)
  • Event attendees will be registered to allow for contract tracing.
  • Post-event, custodial staff disinfects high-touch areas.


Support Services


PSD is anticipating an increase in bus ridership in 2021-22, compared with the current year, with some possible limitations because of a reduction in routes due to the ongoing bus driver shortage. The district is not planning to provide School of Choice or alternate busing next school year.

Updates are posted on the Transportation web page >> 

Meals in 2021-22

Meals are free in the 2021-22 school year for all enrolled PSD students, due to an extension of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimbursement program for school districts.

We encourage families to apply for free or reduced-price meals - being approved means additional benefits for you and your school. Could your family use extra money for food? Apply to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  

More info on the school meals page >>



What support does PSD provide for the social and emotional needs of students?

PSD supports students and families with services and resources to address their social and emotional needs.

Last school year, PSD’s mental health professionals, counselors and other special service providers, or SSPs, worked together to tailor the support for students and their families throughout COVID. During remote learning, they connected with students and families via video calls, instant messaging, texts and phone calls. Counselors and mental health professionals produced videos that helped students with different skills or featured lessons based on what students needed most. 

Check out mental health resources here >> 

What district and community supports are available to working parents and families who may need assistance?

Resources for families, including childcare assistance, are available. Learn more on the Family Resources web page

How will students who don’t have reliable access to the internet engage in learning if remote education is needed again? 

PSD has MiFi devices (portable internet hotspots that enable students to engage in remote education wherever they are) to distribute to families who have insufficient internet connectivity in their home. For more information, visit the Internet Access web page.

Educational support for students with disabilities or at-risk

  • How did PSD support at-risk students in Phase 1? PSD staff work with many community partners to identify ways to support our most vulnerable students. In Phase 1 remote learning, the district operated remote learning support centers at many schools for students identified with specific needs. Students supported were those who lacked the resources at home to participate in remote learning; those who are English Language Learners; and those identified as needing significant intervention for English or mathematics.
    •  Remote learning support centers were available as safe spaces for students to access meals, internet services and mental health support, while engaging in remote education. 


Health and Safety Protocols

Masks/Face Coverings

Students and staff are required to bring and wear cloth face coverings when on school grounds, including:

  • In school buildings - entering and existing and during transitions in schools.
  • Riding the bus - Students are not allowed to board a PSD bus without a cloth face covering.

Students may remove their cloth face covering:

  • During approved outdoor “mask breaks,” 
  • When outdoors, following public health guidelines, 
  • When eating and/or drinking while indoors during designated times (e.g., lunch), so long as they remain in their assigned seats and follow physical distancing, and
  • When eating outdoors and following physical distancing 

Face coverings must comply with District Policy JICA - Student Dress. Students wearing a face covering prohibited by Policy JICA will be notified of the violation, asked to remove the face covering, and be provided with a substitute face covering that meets public health guidance. Habitual or serious violations of Policy JICA may result in more severe disciplinary consequences, including suspension or expulsion, or a transfer to Poudre Global Academy Virtual (PGAV), PSD 100% online option. 

Students are encouraged to keep an additional clean face covering in a plastic bag at school in the event the student’s face covering becomes damaged or dirty during the school day. Disposable cloth face coverings are available to students who forget to bring one or are unable to provide one. Students who habitually forget to bring a face covering to school may be subject to a parent conference with the school administrator and further disciplinary measures. 

Request for medical mask exemptions

There may be limited and rare circumstances where students with disabilities or certain medical conditions may not be able to wear a cloth face covering. Parents/guardians should notify their school principal if they believe their student is unable to wear a face covering at school. The school principal will engage in a process with the parent/guardian to consider the request and the student’s individual needs.

Specific medical documentation that is signed by a medical provider is necessary before an exemption is considered for approval. If a medical exemption is warranted, the principal and/or other appropriate PSD staff will work together with the parent/guardian to provide options or alternatives to the cloth face covering requirement. 

  • If a student is approved for a medical exemption, social distancing of three feet or more will be implemented. If an adult(s) is working in close proximity to the student for support, the adult will wear appropriate PPE such as a mask and may include PPE such as gown, gloves, and eye protection.
  • Potential accommodations or alternatives, depending on the circumstance of the request, may include different passing/transition times to maintain distance from other students or attendance at PGAV. 


Guidelines for face coverings: 

Face coverings should:

  • Be clean and in good repair.
  • Fit snugly, but comfortably against the side of the face.
  • Be secure.
  •  Include multiple layers of fabric (i.e. not lace, mesh).
  • Allow for breathing without restriction.
  • Be on the wearer's face.

Face coverings should not:

  • Have anything hanging off the facial covering that would create a food safety hazard.
  • Have holes or tears. 
  •  Masks should not be shared with others.
  • Have only one layer of fabric. 
  • Made of a mesh material; fabric should not have holes.

Decisions around wearing masks and protocols

District and school leaders will continue to work with and follow guidance and orders from public health officials to meet evolving health and safety requirements and to implement district COVID-19 protocols at all schools and sites.

​Families will be informed of changes or clarifications to the mask protocol as public health conditions evolve. PSD is committed to re-evaluating its universal masking protocol at least quarterly.

Air Quality in PSD Schools and FAQS

Many people have questions about air quality in Poudre School District schools, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is information about PSD's approach to air quality and answers to frequently asked questions.  

PSD's approach to address air quality:

  • Near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSD completed an inventory of ventilation systems across the district. Starting in April 2020, PSD installed MERV-13 filters in all but a few schools MERV-13 filters were installed where possible in order to and prevent the spread of the respiratory droplets that carry COVID-19 viruses. These filters have and will continue to be replaced on a recurring schedule, and they have added benefits beyond those related to COVID-19, including the filtration of smoke. 
  • As of September 2021, the district is working with an outside company to study whether additional air-filtration devices will provide benefit above and beyond the MERV-13-rated filters in most PSD schools. 
  • MERV-13 filters could not be installed in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of and existing systems in those facilities. MERV-13 filters are not typically compatible with older ventilation systems. Instead, ventilation is increased at those schools through use of fans and other means. 
    • To address this challenge, PSD is purchasing air purifiers for classrooms in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of those buildings and incompatability between MERV-13 filters and those building’s older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. 
  • In general, PSD is encouraging all schools to open windows and doors, weather permitting to increase ventilation. 
  • PSD’s Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems facilitate a full air exchange in classrooms a minimum of four times per hour. Due to this rate of exchange, PSD’s classrooms exceed recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).   

Frequently Asked Questions  

  • Has PSD considered buying air purifiers for the entire district? PSD determined it will not, as of August 2021, buy air purifier systems for all classrooms due to the high cost of such a purchase. Across the district, there are roughly 2,000 teaching spaces. The size of a room dictates the size of air purifier system needed, and air purifiers for the size of many PSD rooms cost about $1,000. They also require ongoing maintenance, including the replacement of filters that cost about $200 to $300. Weighing all the district's one-time and ongoing needs to respond to and prevent the spread of COVID-19, which includes but isn't limited to buying personal protective equipment, costs for staffing, and the academic and mental health supports needed for students, PSD determined that it will not purchase air purifiers for all rooms at this time.

    However, PSD is purchasing air purifiers for classrooms in parts of Centennial High School, Harris Elementary and the oldest wing of Timnath Elementary, Poudre Community Academy, and Lesher Middle School due to the age of those buildings and incompatability between MERV-13 filters and those building’s older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.  
  • Has PSD monitored air quality in its classrooms to gather data to support decision-making?Yes. PSD has monitored air volume and air changes per hour in many but not all district classrooms, as of fall 2021. Music classrooms, where there is known potential for high-risk activities such as band and choice, as defined by public health officials, were monitored in the 2020-21 school year.  
  • Can I buy an air purification system for my child’s classroom or school?Schools may not operate retail air cleaners that were not purchased by the district. As of September 2021, the district is working with an outside company to study whether additional air-filtration devices will provide benefit above and beyond the MERV-13-rated filters in most PSD schools. 

Social distancing, eating meals, vaccines, handwashing and other protocols

Eating meals at school:

  • Students may eat in the cafeteria utilizing both sides of a table in a manner that maintains three feet of distance.
  • Seating charts for lunch will be maintained.
  • Students may eat outside when possible.



  • PSD is strongly encouraging but not requiring staff or students to get COVID-19 vaccines. Those who are fully vaccinated (14 days from their last dose) will not be quarantined if exposed. PSD has worked with private and public health partners to host vaccine clinics at PSD schools in recent months and will continue to do so in the future. For information about vaccines, visit the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment website. 



  • Handwashing is preferred over hand sanitizer.
  • Hand hygiene will be done after arrival, after using the bathroom, before eating, after recess or completing activities that involved shared materials.
  • Students may bring their own hand lotion from home.  


Social distancing: 

  • Social distancing: Individuals are encouraged to remain at least 3 feet away from non-household contacts when possible.
  • Where possible, 3 feet of distance between students and desks will be followed.
  • Small groups of different cohorts may be together with social distancing.
  • Seating charts will be maintained for classrooms and small groups. 
  • Cohort mixing during outside recess is acceptable.
  • Partitions are not required. Studies have shown they are not effective; in a large classroom, they decrease the flow of ventilation. 


Other protocols:

  • Students are encouraged to use water bottles.
  • Students and staff will continue to self-monitor; anyone experiencing symptoms should stay home. PSD will follow CDPHE’s updated Return to Learn guidance.
  • When outbreaks occur, PSD will work with LCDHE to determine the appropriate response. This could include masks indoors, additional distancing, testing, contact tracing and quarantining. 
  • PSD encourages use of outdoor spaces and ventilation, such as opening windows and use of box fans.

What do drills look like this year?

Lockdown drills

  • One pre-planned lockdown drill must be completed during the first four weeks of each semester. 
    • The drill will be scheduled and communicated to students, staff and parents in advance. 
    • All drills will be observed by Security Department staff and School Resource Officers.
  • Lockdown Drill Week 
    • Second quarter
    • Schools will be required to conduct one lockdown drill during the week. The drill will be initiated by the Security Department.  
    • Students, staff and parents will be informed in advance that a drill will occur sometime during that week, but not the exact day and time.
    • When asked to conduct the drill, administrators will clearly announce via the intercom that it is simply a drill.
    • Following the drill, parents will be notified.
    • All drills will be observed by Security staff and School Resource Officers.
  • COVID considerations during lockdown drills
    • Staff and students will be required to go to a securable room during the drill.
    • Staff will lock doors and cover windows.
    • To maintain distancing, students will remain at their desks throughout the drill.  
  • New intercoms
    • Administrators at schools with the new intercom system will press a button to play a standardized lockdown message. The message includes a unique tone for 10 seconds followed by lockdown instructions.
    • Administrators will make an intercom announcement prior to using this pre-recorded message.

Severe weather drills

  • Schools may conduct a severe weather drill to determine where classrooms would move to in the event of tornado warnings.
  • The drill will be scheduled and communicated in advance to students, staff and parents.


Fire alarms/drills procedures:

  • Designated person(s) check fire alarm panel to identify location of alarm.
  • Designated person(s) physically check the location where alarm was pulled to identify if it was a false alarm or an actual emergency.  If there is fire, smoke or fumes, exit immediately and report to fire department responders.  If it is determined to be a false alarm, you can silence the alarm (don’t reset alarm panel), wait for fire department to arrive and call Safe Systems and 490-3333 to report to them that it was a false alarm.  Students and staff should remain outside at the designated meeting place until fire department gives the permission to reenter the building.
  • Designated person (usually principal) meets at front of building with fire department to notify alarm zone location and verify that students and staff have exited the building and that everyone is accounted for.
  • Elementary and Middle Schools should have a roster to check attendance.  Staff should account for students once they are at their designated meeting place outside the building.  Once everyone is accounted for, the designated person in front of the building should report the attendance to the Fire Department preferably within 5 minutes.  
  • Designated meeting place should be away from building, preferably in a grassy area away from traffic or emergency vehicles.  Check your location to make sure fire hydrants and all access by emergency vehicles is clear.
  • Primary and secondary evacuation routes permanently posted in each classroom on or near the primary exit door.
  • Designate a building (with their authorization) near your school that can be used to shelter students in inclement weather.
  • Remind staff and students to close classroom doors behind them as they leave a classroom.
  • Always have trained alternates that can be responsible for any of the above items. It is always possible that the principal and custodian may be out of the building during an emergency.


Educational Options

What are my options if I am not comfortable with sending my student to school for in-person learning? 

Those interested in a 100% online or hybrid option for the year may consider attending Poudre Global Academy. Important considerations:

  • 2021-22 School Year - If a student is accepted at PGAV for the 2021-22 school year through School Choice or by School Transfer Request, and the parent wants the student to return to their original school, the parent follows the School Transfer Request process. Acceptance back at the school depends on space availability.
  • 2022-23 School Year - If a student is accepted at PGAV for the 2021-22 school year through School Choice or by School Transfer Request, and the parent wants the student to return to their original school, either the neighborhood school or School Choice school for the 2022-23 school year, the parent follows the School Choice process. Students applying for their neighborhood school will be accepted.  Acceptance for School Choice students would be based on space availability for that grade level.

Homeschool: Find guidelines and information on the PSD Homeschool web page. 

Charter school questions: Why aren't they listed on the PSD COVID data dashboard? Why are some operating differently than other PSD schools?

  • Although PSD authorized the charters, the district does not manage PSD-authorized charter school operations or staff; charter school employees are NOT PSD employees.     
  • Therefore, PSD is not overseeing or managing COVID-19 response at any of the district's authorized charter schools.   
  • If people have questions about how PSD-authorized charter schools are operating during COVID-19 or anytime, they should contact those schools directly.      
  • Larimer County Department of Health and Environment reviews all school plans to operate.   
  • A significant reason PSD is different than charters or a single private school, say, is the school district’s size. The overall impact of communitywide spread and cases is much more significant on a system with approximately 3,000 staff and 27,000 students than a private or charter school with several hundred or even 1,000 or more people all together. 

What data or criteria are PSD considering when making decisions?

PSD works closely with the LCDHE about district plans, county data and overall community risk. LCDHE makes the county’s COVID data publicly available on an online dashboard, which features current data for total cases, deaths, outbreaks, county comparisons, as well as the current community risk index.

Please note that not one single data point determines whether PSD is operating in an educational phase with remote education (Phase 1), mostly remote learning with small group in-person supports (Phase 2), a remote and in-person hybrid (Phase 3), or fully in-person education with health protocols (Phase 4).

Response to PSD cases: In addition to monitoring COVID data in the community, PSD staff respond to every COVID case in the district. The response often includes temporarily closing classrooms and shifting to remote education for an initial assessment period, working with LCDHE to identify who was in close contact with a positive COVID individual, and issuing quarantine orders for close contacts. 

What does learning look like with remote education?

 Please see the Remote Learning web page for processes and expectations related to remote learning. 

  • What technical support is available? A technical support website for parents and students is available. The PSD website offers device troubleshooting information, application technical support and covers other common technical issues that parents and students sometime experience. 
  • How do students stay connected to teachers and get resources when remote learning is in place? Online teacher learning pages provide remote learning resources Every teacher and/or department has their own online learning pages where students can find remote learning resources. 

How do I un-enroll my student from PSD?

To un-enroll a student, please contact your child’s school. If you choose to homeschool, please submit a notice of intent to homeschool. Find more information on the PSD Homeschool web page.


Additional questions

Are PSD facilities available to rent?

  • District facilities are available to rent by the community.
  • Those renting PSD facilities are expected to follow mask requirements and other health and safety protocols. 
  • Groups renting facilities are expected to keep lists of who was in attendance and conduct their own contact tracing.