2020-21 School Year FAQS

Starting the school year

The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 24, for all students (PreK-12). PSD has made the difficult decision to start the new school year with all students learning remotely.

PSD leadership and public health officials have agreed that it is unwise to open schools in the current environment. Schools will be closed to in-person education through at least the end of first quarter, Friday, Oct. 16. Public health conditions will be re-evaluated and then it will be determined if schools can be responsibly reopened or if remote education will continue. 


Frequently asked questions 

If you have additional questions, please email info@psdschools.org.

Fall Plan 

Why is PSD shifting elementary to Phase 3 hybrid – In-person/at-home learning first? What about secondary?

Remote education continues to be most challenging for our elementary students and, particularly, the youngest among them. Feedback from families, students and staff so far has been that remote education has been more consistent and accessible for middle and high school students. As shared in the Sept. 15 announcement, we continue to target Oct. 19 to begin in-person learning for our secondary students and will share more details the week of Sept. 28. As with our elementary schools, we plan to return to in-person learning at the secondary level in a phased, hybrid approach. 

Why not bring back all students in Phase 4 – In-person education with safety protocols? 

PSD will follow a phased approach, bringing in different grades over time in Phase 3 – Hybrid in-school/remote learning in October.

It is important for PSD to return to in-person learning with a smaller number of students in buildings so we can monitor the impact of this transition on our students, families, staff and community. This approach allows the district to be as responsive as possible and to take the appropriate steps to respond should we see case outbreaks as a result. Public health conditions are constantly changing, and PSD remains poised to respond accordingly. 

How will remote education be different than in spring 2020?

  • School schedules and consistent practices will be in place for remote education.

  • Teachers will communicate with students and families on a regular basis and have Teacher Learning Pages that include messages, links to online learning platforms and assignment information. 

  • The district will provide Help Guides for families to learn how to navigate these primary applications to support their students (Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, etc.). 

  • All lessons will be based on essential standards and provide meaningful work. Over the course of the year, all essential standards will be covered in core subject areas and courses. 

  • Attendance will be taken each day. Students will receive timely and relevant feedback on their learning during school hours. Grades will be assigned. Teachers will communicate their grading practices and expectations.  

More information, including remote learning schedules for elementary, middle and high school students, is available on the Remote Learning: What to Expect web page.






Will there be more technical support from the district while remote learning is in place?

A new technical support website designed specifically for parents and students is available this school year. The website offers device troubleshooting information, application technical support and covers other common technical issues that parents and students sometime experience. 

For the latest information, visit the Technical Support and Resources web page. 


How will we stay connected to teachers and get the resources we may need for remote learning?

Online teacher learning pages will provide remote learning resources

Every teacher and/or department will have their own online learning pages where students can find their remote learning resources. For example, an elementary teacher's page may feature messages from the teacher, and links to Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, other learning applications. These pages will serve as the entry point for students to access content when remote learning is in place.

How will students be graded in the 2020-21 school year? Will grading be different when students are learning remotely or in-person? 

Grades will be assigned. Teachers will communicate their grading practices and expectations. 

What will education for students with disabilities look like?

Since the start of school is being delayed, will the end of school in May 2021 also be pushed a week? 

PSD is working with the Colorado Department of Education to determine the steps necessary to ensure that the district meets CDE requirements for the number of minutes, hours, and days necessary at each school level. With the shift of the start of the school year to August 24, PSD is considering adding instructional minutes to each school day, re-designating workdays as student contact days, and other strategies to meet these requirements while keeping the last day of school on May 26, 2021. We will communicate with our community if the last day changes.


Athletics, Activities, Clubs and Field Trips

Middle School Athletics:PSD has made the difficult decision to delay the start of middle school athletics for the 2020-21 school year. The hope is it will resume after the holiday break in early January, with a modified season for all ten sports.

High School Athletics: The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) has released the 2020-21 athletics schedule. The 2020-21 season will be played with a modified sports schedule with four separate sports seasons - A,B,C and D -  during the school year. See the schedule here. Families can register for high school sports on the PSD Athletics website. If you have questions, please reach out to your school athletic director. 

Will there be clubs or extracurricular activities when PSD shifts to Phase 3 in October?  There will be no clubs or extracurricular activities in-person at the elementary level. Secondary grades may offer some athletics, clubs and extracurricular activities that follow public health protocols. 

Will there be field trips when PSD shifts to Phase 3 hybrid – In-person/remote learning in October?  No. Field trips for all grades are canceled until January 2021. 

For the latest information about PSD athletics and activities, please visit the PSD Activities, Athletics and Events Status web page. 

“Parent Pods,” or small groups of families that share the responsibility to supervise all children in a “pod” during the students’ academic studies, are gaining traction in the community. Are some affiliated with PSD?  

As of Aug. 5, there are no such groups affiliated with or endorsed by PSD. If parents wish to use the learning-pod model described above, they need to organize the groups on their own, as they are not part of PSD. PSD will not assign teachers to work with these specific groups. 

With the remote learning start, do I need to buy my student’s school supplies? Is there a different list? 

Yes, students will still need some supplies to support their remote learning. Following the shift to remote education, school teams will review their school lists and may make adjustments. Schools will communicate school supply list information directly with families before the start of school. 

Taxpayers agreed in the November 2019 election to support a pay increase for teachers due to the importance and value they provide to the community and the children they teach. Can I get a refund?

It is not possible to request a refund of taxes paid to a taxing district. We understand you are frustrated. Shifting to remote learning (through Oct. 16) was incredibly difficult and ultimately a life-safety decision to keep our students and staff as safe as possible.



Have the SAT and PSAT tests that were cancelled last spring been rescheduled?

The SAT and PSAT that were cancelled last spring for 10th and 11th grade students have been tentatively rescheduled for fall 2020.

Provided that in-person assessments can be held, these optional tests are offered on the following days:
•    SAT (for interested 12th graders): October 14 (make-up test date October 27)
•    PSAT (for interested 11th graders): October 29 (no make-up date)

Between now and early October, high schools will work with families to identify students who are interested in participating in these optional assessments.


Educational Options:  PSD Virtual and Homeschool

I am not comfortable with my student going back to in-person learning. How do I enroll in PSD Virtual?

Parents/guardians will be permitted to switch to PSD Virtual by completing the transfer process and if there is space available. 

Learn more on the PSD Virtual web page.

How is the student experience different at PSD Virtual than when a student is enrolled in their home school and PSD is operating in a phase with remote education?  

PSD Virtual was established as an option for the 2020-21 school year as an alternative for families who opted for the consistency of learning online all the time. PSD Virtual will not shift among the district’s educational phases, which are dependent on current public health conditions, guidance and orders.  

PSDV teachers will use the standards-based curriculum from Colorado iLearn Collaborative, locally developed curriculum, and concurrent enrollment courses at Front Range Community College at the secondary level and curriculum from Colorado Digital Learning Solutions and locally developed curriculum at the elementary level. PSD Virtual teachers will also supplement with other district curriculum materials for teaching and learning. PSD teachers in the home schools will use district curriculum materials for their remote instruction.   

Additionally, classes of PSD Virtual students will have students from schools across the district. For example, a first-grade class may have students whose home schools are Bennett, McGraw, Timnath and Zach elementary schools. Students who don’t enroll in PSD Virtual will remain in class with students who are all from the same home school.  

Whether enrolled in PSD Virtual or attending their home school, PSD students will experience support from compassionate and professional teachers and staff as well as be connected to their peers, teachers and others within unique school communities. 

How do I disenroll from PSD Virtual? 

To unenroll in PSD Virtual:

  •  Email psdvinfo@psdschools.org with the subject line “Unenroll.”
  • In the body of the email, please provide your parent name, student name, and student ID number. 

Enrolling your child at PSD Virtual is a year-long commitment. There may be a possibility of transitioning back to your student’s neighborhood school at the semester break, but that opportunity will be on a space-available basis and is not guaranteed. For more information, visit the PSD Virtual website.

I've decided to homeschool my student this year. What do I need to do?

You can find guidelines and information about what you need to do to homeschool on the PSD Homeschool web page. 


Important Considerations for 2020-21 Planning

What data or criteria are PSD using to decide what happens after Oct. 16?

LCDHE makes the county’s COVID-19 data publicly available on an online dashboard that is updated at a minimum every 24 hours, but at times more frequently. The dashboard features current data for total cases, deaths, outbreaks, how Larimer County compares to other Colorado counties, as well as the current community risk index, which has been “medium” throughout the summer. PSD staff receive regular updates from the LCDHE team about these data, the county’s overall response to COVID-19, and their current observations, concerns, areas of improvement and recommendations. Although all data are taken into consideration in the overall context of community risk, here are a few key data points that PSD leadership are paying attention to while considering what happens after Oct. 16 and whether the district will shift from remote education:  

  • 14-day case rate per 100,000, also referred to as the “14-day average:” Because this number, like other LCDHE data, changes often, we advise people to click on the link to see what it is currently, as opposed to citing a figure here that will quickly become outdated. High risk is defined by LCDHE as 100 or more per 100,000; medium risk is 50-100 cases per 100,000; and low risk is 50 or fewer per 100,000. Earlier this summer, the county’s 14-day average was close to 100 cases per 100,000, prompting the state health department to put the county on notice about potentially losing its variance to open earlier than the rest of the state. Although the 14-day average has improved over the summer, LCDHE Public Health Director Tom Gonzales has said he wants to see the county’s average closer to 50 cases per 100,000.  

  • 14-day test positivity percentage: As of early September 2020, the county dashboard showed the test positivity percentage at about 3 percent, which is below the state’s target for counties to be at 5 percent or lower.  

  • Percent hospital utilization: This is the total percent occupancy of hospitals within the two largest health systems in Larimer County: UCHealth and Banner. The hospitals report data to LCDHE three times a week. If cases rise in the community, the health department keeps a close eye to make sure our hospitals have enough beds to treat COVID-19 patients, as well as those who are in car crashes, have heart attacks and more. If cases surged, there’s concern there may not be enough capacity to treat everyone who needs it. 

  • COVID-19 testing turnaround time: As PSD families and community members will recall, one of the reasons for PSD shifting to opening the 2020-21 school year in remote education was because test turnaround times were lagging statewide, rendering contact tracing (an essential tool LCDHE uses to minimize outbreaks in our community) essentially obsolete. Contact tracing is a necessary component to PSD’s plan to not just open schools but keep them open over a longer period of time; the district wants to avoid a yo-yo effect of opening and closing to minimize the negative impacts for our families. To be clear, Larimer County and its partners have worked hard so there are enough supplies to test approximately 1,500 people a day for COVID-19. What was lacking at the time that PSD decided to begin the year in remote education was an effective turnaround time on clinical lab results to facilitate effective contact tracing. LCDHE should be receiving clinical lab results in two days or less (a CDC standard) to effectively identify close contacts of positive cases and issue quarantine orders to stop the spread of the virus.  

It’s critical to note that these data change day by day, and sometimes hour by hour, and that they could either improve or decline, leading to concerns that the district will closely monitor and consider.  

I have to work full-time. How do you expect families to adapt to the different phases?

There are disadvantages with each of the four phases of education, and families, students and staff will face challenges with each. Our commitment to you is that we will maintain PSD’s high standards for teaching and learning, regardless of the educational phase in the 2020-21 school year. 

We would absolutely prefer to see our students in-person, at school every day of the week. Families and staff shared that preference in the spring staff and family surveys. We hear you, and we agree. That’s why we got into education. It's irresponsible and naïve of us to plan only for a return to school as it looked before March 2020 and not also prepare plans for alternate ways of educating our students. We must be prepared to adapt as successfully and efficiently as possible to new public health guidelines and restrictions that currently exist and may still arise. 


We should expect and receive nothing less than students being in school every day. Why isn't the district planning for that?

Although our sincere hope is to start the year with students back in school, it would be irresponsible and naïve of us to plan only for a return to school as it looked before March 2020 and not also prepare plans for alternate ways of educating our students. We must be prepared to adapt as successfully and efficiently as possible to new public health guidelines and restrictions that currently exist and may still arise. 

We will continue to monitor conditions and talk with public health and education officials leading up to the start of the new school year, to ensure we are starting a phase that aligns with current health recommendations and requirements. We are working to be as creative as possible in our planning while also adhering to guidance from public health officials. This is not an easy balance to strike, given many factors outside of PSD’s control.  

The amount of screen time students experienced during remote education in spring 2020 was significant. Are you considering this as you plan for 2020-21?

Teams of staff have been discussing how things went in spring 2020 and identifying success and areas of improvement, as PSD plans for the next school year. This work centers around myriad considerations, including where, how and when children learn.  


PSD sent out staff and parent/guardian surveys. How did the results inform your planning?  

We appreciate every person who took the time to complete the staff and parent/guardian surveys. In total, 11,544 people (representing all schools) responded to the parent/guardian survey; 1,442 people responded to the staff survey.  

We carefully analyzed survey responses and used input to guide our planning. As an example: If PSD starts the school year in Phase 3, students will learn in-person at school two full days a week and independently at home the other part of the week. Sixty-three percent of parent/guardian respondents and 61 percent of staff respondents indicated in the survey that they would prefer students be in school for a full day (as opposed to half days) if in-person education is possible. Additionally, 7 percent indicated they are not comfortable with students returning and 23 percent indicated they might be comfortable returning to fall. In response to their input, PSD will offer online learning only, by parent choice. In a 100 percent remote education environment, students can take classes online and be connected to their original school communities. This option will be available to students in preschool through 12th grade. A district team is working together to leverage their collective experience (we are proud of award-winning Poudre Global Academy, which has offered a hybrid in-person/online learning model for K-12 education for more than 10 years in PSD) and what we've learned to-date about educating kids virtually to develop this option. 

Additionally, we are thankful to families, community members and countless others who have shared their feedback directly with PSD staff engaged in planning efforts for the 2020-21 school year. 


Health and Safety Protocols

For complete information related to schools and sites, visit the Health and Safety in 2020-21 web page

What happens if a positive COVID-19 case is identified in one of our schools? Will the school quarantine or close?

For information, please visit the PSD Protocols COVID-19 web page. 


Why is PSD is requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings in school? Can I get a mask exemption for my student?

Why is PSD is requiring all students and staff to wear face coverings in school? 

Cloth face coverings are required to minimize the spread of respiratory droplets carrying the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. We also believe this will help maintain consistency in learning by decreasing the spread of the virus and, therefore, the rate at which classrooms may be quarantined or schools closed, according to current state and county public health department guidance. By wearing a face covering, your child will protect others – including their classmates, teachers and staff. This follows the Colorado governor's order that requires face coverings to be worn indoors. 


Staff and students will be required to wear cloth face coverings in school. 

  • Parents/guardians are responsible for providing cloth face coverings (which must follow county guidance and cover your nose and mouth).   
  • “Mask breaks” will take place periodically and outdoors for health department-approved time without face coverings.  
  • Students will be allowed to take their cloth face masks off for recess, following public health guidelines. 
  • There may be rare instances where students or employees with some medical conditions or students with disabilities may be exempt. PSD is finalizing what this process would look like and will communicate more as soon as possible.  

School cleaning, social distancing, air circulation and other health, safety and prevention questions

You can find all health and safety information for the 2020-21 school year, on the Health and Safety in 2020-21 web page.

Visitors at schools

Will parents/guardians, visitors or volunteers be allowed in PSD schools during Phase 3 hybrid – In-person/at-home learning?  

No visitors or volunteers will be allowed in schools until January 2021. 


Support Services

Will PSD provide meals during periods of remote education?  

Yes, the district will continue to provide food for students, many of whom depend upon schools for their only meals each day. District staff are actively planning for how distribution will work during this period of remote education. More information will be available soon on the Free Meals for Students web page. 

What mental health services will PSD offer next school year? What is the plan for supporting students who have suffered from isolation since March?

Mental health specialists for students can be accessed through school counselors or administration teams.  

PSD Special Service Professionals (SSP) - mental health specialists, counselors, social workers and psychologists -  are focused on re-establishing a sense of safety, belonging, and connection for students this year. Teams are prepared to support students who are experiencing feelings of isolation, depression, uncertainty, disappointment, anxiety, and grief and loss. Mental health professionals are incorporating best practices used last spring to remotely support the mental health needs of students and families.

SSPs will connect with previously-served students (at all levels) and offer support to best meet their needs. This works involves re-engagement with each student, their family and the community partners who have supported them during the summer.

School mental health staff will continue to support students who are unsafe to themselves or others through a collaborative response with school staff, the student, their family and community providers to ensure the student's safety and connection to resources.

For more information about support and services, visit the Mental Health Resources web page. 

Transportation and bussing students in 2020-21

For the most-current 2020-21 bussing plan, visit the Transportation web page. For bussing FAQs, please visit the Transportation FAQs for 2020-21 web page. 

Is PSD planning on providing childcare during the day for the children of staff?

Yes. PSD believes strongly that childcare must be provided for all PSD staff so they are able to successfully connect with and educate our community’s children. This is not an employee perk; it is a way for the school district to do business in a new environment. In addition to safety, childcare was among the chief concerns of staff, as shared in PSD’s spring 2020-21 planning staff survey. The Colorado Department of Education is also recommending school districts consider childcare when planning for how to deliver education in the 2020-21 school year. 

The current plan is for PSD to work with contracted vendor AlphaBEST to provide childcare for the school-aged children of all full-time PSD staff if PSD is in Phases 2 or 3 (remote-only education or mostly remote education with in-person education for small groups, respectively). 

What about students who don’t have reliable access to internet? How will they engage in remote education?  

PSD has distributed MiFi devices (portable internet hotspots that enable students to engage in remote education wherever they are) to families who have shared that they have insufficient internet connectivity in their home to complete their work. 

For more information, visit the Internet Access web page.


Both parents work full-time in our household. What supports are available to us while PSD is in remote education? 

PSD contracts with AlphaBEST to provide before- and after-school care. To support families while PSD is in remote education, AlphaBEST is offering its AlphaAcademy, full-day care for students in grades K-6 with remote education learning support, at five PSD elementary schools. More information, including about the program, how to register and rates, is available on the AlphaBEST PSD website.
PSD is also working with community partners to support the most at-risk students who need supervision during remote education. Students include but aren't limited to those whose families are living unsheltered or facing severe economic hardship. 



Questions about returning to work at PSD schools or other sites?

Employees concerned about returning to in-person work should contact Human Resources for additional information and resources.

They may also visit the PSD Staff website (log in using your PSD credentials) for additional information on the Employee Resources web page.

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