June 24 community update regarding 2020-21 school year plans

June 24, 2020

PSD Planning 2020-21 graphic.Dear PSD staff, families and community members, 

As you know, Poudre School District is planning for what school may look like at the start of the next school year and beyond. As our work continues this summer, we want nothing more than to be back in school with our students. We miss them deeply. 

Please know it is our sincere hope to start the year with students back in school, and we are working with our partners at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) to prepare for that possibility, as health conditions allow. On the other hand, 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. Our standards are high in PSD, and we are committed to delivering high-quality education, no matter where students are learning. inally, I must state emphatically that no final decision has been made about whether PSD will start the year in educational Phases 1, 2, 3 or 4 as introduced in my June 10 community update. 

Translations posted when available

We will continue to work closely with our public health partners, including LCDHE, follow local and state guidance and orders, and make a decision about how to start the 2020-2021 school year closer to the first day of school. This will likely occur sometime in early August. I know many of you are anxious to know what the future holds so you can make plans for your family. I hear your frustrations and empathize with the many stressors of our COVID-19 reality. The hard truth is that it’s just too soon to say what the start of school in August will look like. 

During the June 23 Board of Education meeting, district staff took our community behind the scenes and provided another update about the forward-thinking, health-conscious planning happening around the clock ahead of students’ return this fall. Tuesday’s presentation focused largely upon what families can expect teaching and learning to look like as well as what's happening to ensure teachers and staff have the training and resources to best support our students in any learning environment, including in-person, hybrid, and remote learning. Numerous professional development opportunities are available to educators throughout the summer and the learning won’t stop then. Our Professional Learning team is a leader in K-12 education and their passion for empowering teachers to be at their best for kids is boundless.

Teams of staff have been reflecting and talking with stakeholders to pinpoint what worked and didn’t during remote education this spring. I know things were incredibly hard – for parents, students, and staff alike. There are things we can do better, especially now that we have more time to plan for our new reality. Our goal, our mission, remains unchanged, however. It has always been to achieve the best outcomes for all learners, from those who are gifted and talented to those learning English or receiving special education services and every child in between. 

As I said in my last update, we know some families are either unable or uncomfortable with their child returning to school, if in-person education is possible. For that reason, we will offer a 100 percent online option called PSD Virtual.  If you are interested in having PSD Virtual as an option for your student, if the district is in educational Phases 3 or 4, please take this short survey. Completing the survey does NOT indicate enrollment or secure your child’s spot in the program, but data will be used for development of this program. Additional information about PSD Virtual will be shared, as available.

We will share more information about this, including how families can in the future indicate their intent to participate, as it is available.

Since my June 10 update, we have launched new 2020-21 School Year web pages on the PSD website. Here, you’ll find more information about current plans for each of the four phases of education as well as health and safety planning for next school year. These web pages are the one-stop-shop for 2020-21 information, and we will keep the content updated throughout the summer and school year. It’s important to note that the information on the web pages is current as of June 24 and subject to change, like so many things in this pandemic.

Although much is uncertain during this moment in humankind and so many things are outside our control, we can control how we respond. Rest assured that PSD is prepared to take care of our students and staff, no matter what comes our way. 

We’re cautiously optimistic about the fall and looking forward to when we get to see our students in-person again!



Sandra Smyser, Ph.D.