| PostIndependent.com

Positive Covid test causes entire CMS 5th grade to quarantine

A press release came out in the afternoon on Friday, Jan. 22 with details about a transition to distance learning for the entire fifth grade, including its teachers, at Carbondale Middle School (CMS).

The release stated either a staff member or student tested positive for COVID-19. The fifth grade and its teachers are considered to be one large group based on their interactions with one another, and that is why everyone who falls into that category must quarantine through Jan. 31.

Parents of the fifth grade students were made aware of the quarantine and cancellation for in-person teaching before the school day began on Jan. 22. In-person learning for CMS fifth graders will resume on Feb. 1.


Teaching history as it happens

Roaring Fork High School social studies teacher Mr. Foss speaks to students while they work on an assignment analyzing primary sources.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Current events have some valley teachers feeling like the stakes of their profession have never been higher.

“It’s never felt so important to be a social studies teacher,” Basalt High School social studies teacher Dom Roman said.

At a time when opinions about politics and beliefs about what is or isn’t true make chasms between party lines and individuals, it is helpful to be able to contextualize current events with knowledge of our country’s history. As far as consuming information goes, many are locked into their preferred news source or drawn into discourse on social media which can further strengthen one’s one biases.

Social studies teachers can play a crucial role in helping their students navigate those challenges.

For Kendra Schipper, a social studies teacher at Bridges High School, she said she wants her students to have a hands-on approach in their senior capstone projects. Because of COVID-19, it wasn’t possible for them to become active in the community, however she is having them do a letter writing campaign to elected officials. The point of the exercise is for them to practice voicing their own opinions, and she said she hopes at least some of the students get a response in return.

“We’re sort of building the ship as we’re sailing it here,” Schipper said.

Schipper said being able to live through historic events such as the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol helps keep her students engaged during class discussions. She encourages students’ to share their views instead of shying away from controversial topics that may create rifts in the class with students falling on opposite sides of an argument. Schipper said that unlike how online conversations can turn to insults when passionate people try to advocate for what they believe, she holds her students to a certain level of respect for each other.

“We talk a lot about if you know someone and you have a relationship with them, then your willingness to communicate with them and communicate with them in a positive way is going to be much greater and much easier,” Schipper said.

Mitch Foss, a social studies teacher at Roaring Fork High School, said a large part of his curriculum for students focuses on the dangers of social media and being conscientious of where one’s information comes from.

“I really kind of hammer home always more than one source, and if you can’t verify it in another place, wait before you perpetuate it, and even then if you can’t verify it after waiting then it’s probably not something that you can rely on,” Foss said.

Matt Wells, another social studies teacher at RFHS and content team lead for the social studies department, said that budgets for teaching social studies are often neglected, or a teacher with a background in English could be asked to teach a course on history, or vice versa. He said that unlike math, science or literature courses, social studies is still waiting for the sort of acknowledgement in the world of education that brings it up to par with the importance of those core subjects.

“We joke sometimes…that we need a sputnik moment, like science and math had in the late ’50s. But for social studies education, and if the way our nation has moved in recent history isn’t a strong argument for that, I don’t know what is. This stuff is so vital,” Wells said.

Eric Vozick said recent events presented a unique opportunity for him as an educator and his students. Vozick, another social studies teacher at Basalt High School, said Jan. 6 is the equivalent of his students’ “9/11 moment.”

“There are certain advantages to teaching our subject right now…for me it’s been creating a safe space to talk letting (the students) know that it’s very rare that you have moments in history that you know are going to be talked about for the rest of their lives,” Vozick said.

These educators said they try to approach their students with non-partisan views and news sources from either side of the political party. If a student does ask Foss about his personal beliefs he said he tries to help them look at the issue from another angle and emphasizes his own opinion isn’t what’s important or what should hold the focus of the conversation.

Roaring Fork High School junior TJ Methiny (middle) listens in with other students during Mr.Foss's social studies class on Wednesday.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“I pretty much just shut them down and I say, ‘You know, I’m going to avoid that question,’ and I’ll tell them why, I’ll say, ‘You know, my job is to help you learn not necessarily to influence your opinion on a certain topic,” Foss said.

Schipper said the fact that students know each other helps when having controversial conversations in the classroom. Being able to see past what a person believes and through to who they are is what helps maintain that level of respect as students advocate for their own beliefs in her class which land across the board she said.

“If you’re working in a culture that is positive, supportive and respectful…then those conversations aren’t so divisive and difficult. Because you don’t want to step on someone’s toes, you don’t want to make someone angry,” Schipper said.

When students leave the classrooms of these teachers, it is their hope as educators that they have taught them to think for themselves, listen and challenge all points of view and to be able to identify the facts in an argument. Stuart MacLaughlin, a social studies teacher at Basalt High School, said teaching students to think critically is essential, especially for when they venture outside of the land of academia and come across these challenging topics in real life.

“My goal is to always approach my students from a nonpartisan point of view. Teach them what sources are you looking at, teach them what are facts and how do we interpret what others are telling us,” MacLaughlin said.



YouthZone column: Changes in youth behavior could signal psychological trauma

No one likes to be told their child may be exhibiting behaviors that result from psychological trauma. These are hard topics of discussion, but depression, stress and anxiety drastically affect a large number of our youth.

YouthZone saw an increased need for therapy and substance intervention in 2020 when youth and parents experienced stress and psychological trauma as a result of COVID-19, school closures, loss of connection with friends, social unrest and summer fires. Youth specialists, parenting experts and trauma therapists at YouthZone were able to help youth and families by talking them through the stress and trauma.

Trauma results from people experiencing an event that threatens their life or their physical or emotional well-being. Witnessing an event happen to another person can also trigger trauma. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, more than 60 percent of U.S. youth younger than 17 have been exposed to crime, violence or abuse, either directly or indirectly.

A wide array of traumatic experiences affects our youth, and every person reacts to trauma differently. What might seem like a trivial event to one adolescent may have an enormous impact on another individual’s sense of self-worth, emotional stability and behaviors.

Adults in our community need to stay curious and empathetic to traumatically-impacted youth. All people, and particularly young people, communicate through their behaviors, especially when they cannot find the words to express themselves.

Trauma disguises itself in behaviors like aggression, poor school performance, substance use, self-harm, isolation, fluctuations in attitude, delinquent behavior, poor self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts or actions. These behaviors don’t automatically indicate stress from a traumatic event, but any change in behavior should be explored because there is likely something at the root of it to be addressed.

It is definitely hard to watch disturbing displays of behavior. Often, our first response is to try to stop the behavior with punishment or consequences. This reaction usually comes from a place of fear and frustration, because we want our kids to be OK. We want them to make good choices and to live healthy, productive lives.

I challenge the adults in this community to take a different approach when they see unacceptable behavior. Try not to focus on the behavior itself, but chase the “why.” Strive to find out why a young person is acting the way they are. What is their behavior trying to tell us? Once we find out the why, we can help facilitate emotional and physical safety and healthy connection for our youth. This is where we will begin to see a positive behavioral shift.

Discovering the root cause of challenging behaviors or helping a child cope with a traumatic event can begin with a call to YouthZone at 970-945-9300.

Courtney Dunn is a therapist and specializes in trauma and youth. She obtained her BS in Human Services from the University of Northern Colorado and a Masters of Social Work from Denver University.

Roaring Fork schools graduation rate exceeds state average

– 81.9% es la tasa de graduación para las escuelas secundarias en Colorado. Esta es la tasa más alta en los últimos diez años. También es un aumento de 9.5% desde 2010.

– 84.5% es la tasa de graduación de RFSD en 2020.

– 2.4% es la tasa de deserción escolar para RFSD en 2020. Esta tasa es un aumento de 2% en 2019, pero ya que es dentro la gama ha visto durante los cinco últimos años.

– 85.4% es la tasa de graduación para mujeres en todo de Colorado. Esta tasa es un aumento de 0.6% desde el año pasado.

– 78.5% es la tasa de graduación para hombres en todo de Colorado. Esta tasa es un aumento de 0.9% desde el año pasado.

– 1.5% es la tasa de deserción escolar para mujeres en todo de Colorado.

– 2.1% es la tasa de deserción para hombres en todo de Colorado.

Roaring Fork schools are outpacing Colorado’s 10-year high graduation rate.

Colorado high schools’ overall graduation rate for 2020 is 81.9%, the highest ever rate for the past 10 years, according to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). However, a press release from Jan. 14 stated that the graduation rate for the Roaring Fork School District exceeds this average at 84.5%.

Rob Stein, Superintendent for RFSD, said the numbers don’t mean very much unless one looks at the different student populations for each school or district in order to best evaluate them.

“The rate being higher than the state actually doesn’t mean very much at all, and the reason is that what matters is you have to look at the populations of our school district versus the populations of the state,” Stein said.

The important thing for the RFSD board to see is that graduation rates did not drop drastically, something that was cause for concern since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“It’s a relief to me that we didn’t see more kids drop out, we didn’t see fewer kids graduate given what happened mid-year last year,” Stein said.

The press release also stated that the RFSD student dropout rate shifted from 2% in 2019 to 2.4% in 2020. Although there is a slight increase, this number is still within the 2-2.5% range RFSD saw over the past five years.

“If kids didn’t graduate in time we want to hang onto them until they’re ready to graduate…so a (graduation that takes) 6-7 years is still awesome for us,” Stein said.

Stein said RFSD’s main priority is to keep students on track and help them when they can. He provided examples of “universal built-in support” for all students, but particularly those who fall into the economically disadvantaged subgroup.

“Also being more flexible with students like giving them asynchronous opportunities to participate if things like work or competition for bandwidth in the household for the internet become complete dealbreakers.”

– 81.9% is the Colorado high school graduation rate and the highest rate the state has seen in the past decade. It is an increase by percentage of 9.5% since 2010.

– 84.5% is the RFSD graduation rate in 2020.

– 2.4% is the RFSD dropout rate in 2020. It is an increase from 2% in 2019 but still within the 2-2.5% range seen over the last 5 years.

– 85.4% is the graduation rate for females state-wide. It is a percentage increase of 0.6% from last year.

– 78.5% is the graduation rate for males state-wide. It is a percentage increase of 0.9% from last year.

– 1.5% is the dropout rate for females in Colorado.

– 2.1% is the dropout rate for males in Colorado.

Stein said he thinks RFSD stands apart from other school districts across the state due to their strong commitment to student engagement. He mentioned the district’s crew system that helps keep track of groups of about 15-20 students so that needs can be met with more precise attention when challenging circumstances present themselves to students, or situations they do not have control over.

“We’re watching eagerly to see what happens for the rest of this year and to see that all of our students graduate, and we continue to provide lots of support for every student. Next year’s numbers when they come out in the fall around graduation rates will be really telling about how we did.”



CMC honors Martin Luther King Day with free, virtual events available to the public

Colorado Mountain College will honor Martin Luther King Day this Monday with guest speaker Dr. Marcia Chatelain and then Tuesday, Jan 19, will have a panel of faculty and students conducting a discussion about the topics presented in the lecture.

CMC announced these free events available to the public Jan. 14 in a press release. Chatelain is a professor who teaches African American studies and history at Georgetown University.

She is also the author of the books “South Side Girls” and “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”. Chatelain was an Andrew Carnegie fellow in 2019 amongst several other accolades for her work as a historian.

The virtual lecture is titled “Building Bridges to Common Ground” and will be held at noon via zoom. Members of the community as well as faculty and students of CMC can access the talk here. Chatelain will discuss Dr. King’s life and messages and how they can help bring people together in a time of chaos and division.

Community members can also tune into the panel discussion Tuesday from 10-11:30 a.m. through this zoom link. More information about how to participate in these conversations can be found here.



5PointVoices presenta un espacio segura para la autoexpresión de estudiantes entre de la cinematografía

Diez estudiantes senior en la escuela secundaria de Bridges en Carbondale crearon una película corta documentando sus vidas para un proyecto final. Adam Carballeira, un maestro de inglés en Bridges, enseñó la clase junto con la artista de enseñanza Cassidy Wiley en persona cuando las precauciones de COVID-19 permitieron.

“Estamos creando persona a persona, no pantalla a pantalla … pienso que el proyecto de cinematografía se podía hacer en línea, pero el facto que todos podían reunirse fortaleció,” Wiley dijo.

La película es justo bajo 10 minutos y una compilación de videos tomados por los diez estudiantes y entrevistas donde compartieron detalles sobre ellos mismos y sus vidas que no puedes saber con solo mirarlos.

“Mi gol fue … mostrar al mundo que los adolescentes son asombrosos y tienen pensamientos ricos. Para mi pienso que, y adultos, dar nosotros esperanza para el futuro, tu sabes, porque estas personas jovenes estan afuera quienes son tan poderosos y apasionados sobre creado un mundo bueno,” Carballeira dijo.

El curso final sería posible por 5PointVoices — un esfuerzo colaborativo entre de dos organizaciones sin fines de lucro locales que querían usar sus goles de celebrar arte y enriquecer comunidades y dar estudiantes poco representados una plataforma.

Regna Jones, la directora ejecutiva de 5Point, dijo que ella piensa que las personas jóvenes están subestimadas frecuentemente o se perciben de forma inexacta. Ella dijo que la película corta le da a alguien quien decide a mirar una oportunidad para obtener una mejor idea de quiénes son estos estudiantes.

“Pienso que ya que el proyecto estaba en el enfoque de las estudiantes y para ellos entendieron desde al principio les ayudó a abrirse de maneras que es posible ellos no habrían hecho si sintieran que no tenían nada que decir sobre la presentación de la película,” Jones dijo.

Ella también dijo que la idea principal para el curso estaba planeado, la mayoría no era estructurado con un formato estricto para empezar. El aspecto educacional del curso que se enfoca en los elementos técnicos de grabación de video no fue la única lección que los estudiantes o los coordinadores se fueron con después de las seis semanas.

“Fueron mucho aprendido dentro del grupo en conjunto y pienso que está abriendo a la idea que educación es algo que viene de dentro, no es como una experiencia de arriba hacia abajo. Mentores y educadores excelentes son estos que podían ver estudiantes como maestros,” Jones dijo.

Renee Prince, la directora ejecutiva de Voices, dijo que la idea detrás del proyecto permite que evolucione con el paso del tiempo. Aunque el curso tuvo artistas de enseñanza dedicados, en persona y virtualmente, la intención fue para sea un curso dirigido por estudiantes; algo adaptable dependiente en quienes son los estudiantes y que servirá a ellos mejor.

“La procesa creativa demanda que todos nosotros estamos aprendiendo y tomando riesgos reales y poniendo nosotros mismos fuera de nuestra zona de confort; los adultos y estudiantes en el habitación. Todos nosotros estamos haciendo lo porque creamos algo nuevo que no fue allí antes,” Prince dijo.

Abriendo un espacio para realizar conexiones nuevas fue un gol detrás del programa. Las estrechas relaciones se forman entre de los estudiantes y con los maestros basado en actividades del aula y conversaciones donde la vulnerabilidad será normal. Prince dijo que ella no realizó que pronto un sentido de comunidad podría formarse, especialmente con una gran parte del curso ocurriendo virtualmente durante las etapas iniciales.

“Pienso que todos personas estaban sorprendidos con que rápido puede crear comunidad dentro de un grupo de personas entre del proceso creativo,” Prince dijo.

La película “estrenada” en diciembre 14 en una proyección virtual para estudiantes, maestros y coordinadores del programa. En una conversación después de mirar por primera vez, el estudiante Matt McComb comentó en su reacción emocional a ver todo metraje junto en un producto final.

“La escena final de la película me hizo llorar … que angie dijo fue tan poderoso … sobre nunca puedes estar satisfecho con hacer algo y siempre deberías por más,” McComb dijo.

El consenso de los estudiantes fue que todo estaba montado de una manera donde todos pudieran presentarse. La estudiante Angie Ramirez dijo que ella estaba agradecida a todos los artistas de enseñanza y los coordinadores que hicieron posible el proyecto. La combinación de los puntos de vista de los estudiantes en una película autobiográfica poniendo perspectiva en capas en una manera única sin embargo armoniosa.

“Siento como mirando y escuchando que todos los demás querían decir, te da un punto de vista diferente en vida y te hace ver cosas de otras maneras. Vi la forma en que Grace pensaba, Bailey y Parker y todos … puedes aplicar esto a tu propia vida. Si no fuera por ustedes no habríamos tenido la oportunidad de verlo,” Ramirez dijo.

Cualquiera puede ver la película en este enlace de Youtube y Jones dijo que 5Point plane a incorporar en el sección de la programa de estudiantes en el festival anual de cine de la organización sin fines de lucro. El trabajo en equipo entre 5Point, Voices y la escuela secundaria de Bridges continuará esta primavera e idealmente en los próximos años para seguir creando un espacio para autoexpresión entre de estudiantes a punto de irse escuela secundaria y forjar caminos nuevos para ellos mismos.

“Sentí tan vigorizada e inspirada al estar con estos niños. Ellos son esperanzados, no son hastiados, son amables el uno con el otro, son curiosos, y pienso que ver el mundo para diez minutos de su perspectiva, especialmente en estos tiempos que se sienten oscuros y pesados tan a menudo, pienso que será muy refrescante … Pienso que obtener un sentido nuevo de lo que hace que los niños sean tan especiales,” Wiley dijo.



El consejo escolar de Roaring Fork discute pruebas y vacunas para el personal

Los miembros del consejo escolar del distrito de Roaring Fork discutieron los protocolos nuevos de COVID-19 para la mayoría de la reunión de la noche del miércoles. Estos protocolos empezaron después de las vacaciones de invierno e incluyeron un periodo de cuarentena más corto para maestros que recibieron un resultado negativo.

El consejo escolar también habló del prospecto para la disponibilidad de vacunas para maestros, y una actualización en el plan del distrito para aprendizaje virtual para escuelas en Glenwood Springs, Carbondale y Basalt.

La primera reunión del consejo escolar del año nuevo también fue la primera bajo la dirección de la presidente nueva del consejo, Natalie Torres.

El superintendente de las escuelas de Roaring Fork, Rob Stein, proveyó actualizaciones realizadas durante vacaciones, incluido un periodo de cuarentena más corto para maestros, estudiantes y el personal que pueden haber estado expuesto al virus.

Por la dirección de funcionarios de salud pública, ahora el periodo es para 10 días, en vez de 14, para estudiantes, y para maestros podía ser tan corto como siete días.

“Si miembros del personal querían regresar después de siete días ellos podían hacerse la prueba, y con la confirmación de una prueba fiable y negativa ellos podrían regresar después de siete días,” Stein dijo. “…Lo que estamos tratando de priorizar es mantener el aprendizaje en persona.”

Hay un programa voluntario que empieza el martes para RFSD maestros y el personal donde ellos podrían recibir una prueba rápida de COVID una vez por semana. El jueves fue el último día para inscribirse si empleados quieren empezar las pruebas tan pronto como la semana próxima.

La decisión de proveer pruebas rápidas solamente para el personal, en vez de la inclusión de estudiantes, tuvo la influencia de la orientación de autoridades de salud pública local.

“Esta foto en tiempo no es suficiente para garantizar que no tienes la enfermedad, pero es suficiente para miembros de la comunidad a relajarse sus comportamientos. Pues, no queremos crear un sentido de seguridad falso que socava los esfuerzos hemos hecho…,” Stein dijo.

Ya que las pruebas rápidas tienen un 40% probabilidad de resultados negativos falsos, es importante que no cambie su comportamiento después del hecho. Esto significa la continuación de distancia social de otros, lavarse a fondo sus manos y llevar una máscara, Stein agregó.

El distrito fue ofrecido la oportunidad a participar en los ensayos de una prueba rápida nueva donde el primer mes sería gratis. Sin embargo, Stein dijo que el distrito sería acusado con una cantidad desconocida después del primer 30 días. Esto fue causa de preocupación, él dijo.

“Pienso que vamos a mirar y aprender y continuaremos a ver si debemos hacer un plan exhaustivo, pero no sería para martes,” Stein dijo.

Las logísticas de las pruebas de los estudiantes – cómo administrar la prueba, a donde las datos completas y los residuos biológicos serían enviadas y como asegurare todos personas hacen las torundas en una manera correcta (un otro causa grande de resultados negativos falsos) todavía necesita más discusión y la toma de decisiones por el distrito.

En una nota más positiva, los educadores del frente fueron agregados al fin de la fase 1 para la implementación de la vacuna de COVID-19. Aunque, continuaré esperando varias semanas antes si la vacuna está disponible para grupos de trabajo específicos localmente.

Stein dijo que considerar a todo el personal de escuela será esencial, y que fue posible para trabajadores que no están en el frente, como los mecánicos del autobús, serán necesitados en el frente y manejar una ruta del autobús.

“Vaya mira. Hay un rayo de esperanza y algo de sol en el horizonte, así que es emocionante escuchar esto,” Torres dijo. “Lo dar todo es algo que esperamos con impaciencia.”

Stein también dio una actualización en los cuatro estudiantes que tuvieron los síntomas que causaron la escuela secundaria de Roaring Fork en Carbondale a cancelar lo aprendido en persona por un día más temprano esta semana. No encontró ninguna similitudes entre los estudiantes, como si ellos estaban en las mismas partes del edificio o si algunos compartieron una clase juntos. Hasta el momento la causa de su enfermedad sigue siendo desconocida, aunque a ellos se les pidió que hicieran una prueba de COVID.

La razón principal para cerrar la escuela el día próximo fue para hacer un proceso de desinfección y limpieza profunda. Un consultor ambiental vendrá para realizar una investigación a fondo, pero Stein dijo que el tiempo del giro para el consultor llegar a la escuela no debe ser muy rápido.

“Tuvimos el cuerpo de bomberos, tuvimos otros consultores locales mirando nuestros sistemas de HVAC y nuestro peligros ambientales potenciales. Estábamos sospechosos de que fuera un problema con la calidad del aire … desafortunadamente, no pudimos precisar la causa,” Stein dijo.

El miembro del consejo Jasmin Ramirez preguntó sobre la distribución de la comida a estudiantes necesitados.

El Director de Operaciones Jeff Gatlin confirmó que el horario fue ajustado a los miércoles y los viernes en vez de los miércoles y los sábados. Antes de las vacaciones de invierno, el programa estaba distribuido aproximadamente 7,000 platos cada semana. Este semana pasada, la participación fue más baja de lo habitual pero Gatlin dijo que la causa fue probablemente debido al cambio en el horario.

“Movimos nuestra distribución de los paquetes de comida a los miércoles y los viernes … esto es algo que el equipo de servicios de comida ha trabajando muy duro para comunicar,” Gatlin dijo.


Roaring Fork school board discusses staff COVID testing, vaccines

Roaring Fork District school board members spent the majority of their Wednesday evening meeting discussing new COVID-19 protocols following the winter break, including a shorter quarantine period for teachers who receive a negative test.

Also covered during the discussion was the prospect for vaccines to be available for teachers, and an update on the district’s new distance learning set-up for schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

The first school board meeting of the new year was also the first directed by newly appointed president of the board, Natalie Torres.

Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein provided updates on some of the protocol changes made during the holiday break, including a shorter quarantine period for teachers, students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus.

At the direction of public health officials, that period of time is now 10 days, instead of 14, for students, and for teachers could be as short as seven days.

“If staff want to come back after seven days they may get tested, and with confirmation of a reliable negative test they may return after seven days,” Stein said. “… What we’re trying to prioritize is maintaining in-person learning.”

Starting Tuesday, RFSD teachers and staff can opt in to a voluntary program to receive a rapid COVID test once a week. Thursday was the last day to sign up if employees would like to start testing as soon as next week.

The decision to provide rapid tests to staff only, instead of including students, is one that was heavily influenced by guidance from local public health authorities.

“That snapshot in time is not enough to guarantee you don’t have the disease, but it’s enough for many members of the community to be relaxing their behaviors. So, we don’t want to create this false sense of security that will undermine all the efforts we have been making …,” Stein said.

Since rapid testing has a 40% chance of false test results, it is important to not change one’s behavior after the fact. This means continuing to social distance, wash hands thoroughly and wear a mask, Stein added.

The district was offered the opportunity to partake in the trials of a new rapid test where the first month of testing would be free. However, Stein said the district would be charged an unknown amount after the first 30 days. That was cause for concern, he said.

“I think we’re going to watch and learn and we’re going to continue to see if we can put together a comprehensive plan, but it’s not going to be for Tuesday,” Stein said.

The logistics surrounding testing students — how to administer the test, where the collected data and biowaste would be sent and how to ensure everyone is actually swabbing themselves correctly (another major cause of false negative results) — still requires more discussion and decision-making on the district’s end.

On a more positive note, frontline educators were added to the end of phase 1 for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. However, it’s still expected to be several weeks before the vaccine is available locally for occupation-specific groups.

Stein said he considered all school staff to be essential, and that it was possible for non-frontline workers, such as bus mechanics, to be needed on the frontline and drive a bus route.

“We’ll see. there is a ray of hope and some sun on the horizon, so that’s exciting to hear,” Torres said. “It gives us all something to look forward to.”

Stein also gave an update on the four students whose symptoms caused Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale to cancel in-person learning for a day earlier this week. No similarities were found between the students, such as if they were in the same parts of the building or if any of them shared a class together. As of right now the cause of their illness is still unknown, although they were asked to be tested for COVID.

The primary reason for closing the school the following day was to do a deep disinfection and cleaning process. An environmental consultant will be coming to conduct a more thorough investigation, but Stein said the turnaround time for getting the consultant out to the school wouldn’t be a quick one.

“We had the fire department, we had other local consultants looking at our HVAC systems and our potential environmental hazards. We were suspicious there might be an air quality issue … unfortunately, we could not pinpoint the cause,” Stein said.

Board member Jasmin Ramirez inquired about meal distribution to students in need.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gatlin confirmed that the schedule was adjusted to Wednesdays and Fridays instead of Wednesdays and Saturdays. Prior to the winter break, the program was distributing about 7,000 meals a week. This past week, participation was lower than usual but Gatlin said it was likely caused by the schedule change.

“We did shift our meal pack distribution to Wednesdays and Fridays… that’s something that the food service team has been working hard to communicate,” Gatlin said.


La pista de hielo en escuela de Carbondale ayuda niños abrazan al aire libre durante COVID

Crystal River Elementary School third grader Althea Nims Gracy laces up the ice skates before hitting the newly built ice rink just outside of the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Marty Madsen está en su decimoctavo año como maestro de educación física para estudiantes en la escuela primaria de Crystal River en Carbondale. Su objetivo como educador es ayudar a los estudiantes a tratar muchos deportes diferentes y moldearlos entre seres humanos buenos en el camino.

“Muchos de estos niños son buenos en cosas diferentes, y si puede ayudar a un niño hacer bueno el patinaje sobre hielo …esto los hace sentir mejor sobre ellos mismos. Esto es lo que quiero hacer como un maestro, establecer confianza en uno mismo, establecer seres humanos buenos y niños buenos,” Madsen dijo.

Madsen empezó enseñando a estudiantes en el tercer grado como esquí nordico cuando descubrió equipo antiguo en el sótano del antiguo edificio de la escuela. Con el paso del tiempo, también incluí patinaje sobre hielo para estudiantes con un autobús de enlace a la pista de patinaje del pueblo en los terrenos de rodeo de Carbondale.

Crystal River Elementary School second grader Melanie Petatan practices how to use cross country skis just outside of the school during gym class.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Madsen dijo que nunca pensó que podría proveer sus estudiantes con una pista de patinaje en los terrenos de escuela, y sin embargo este año con la ayuda de padres de CRES Flor y Ernesto Cuc, fue capaz de lograrlo.

“Flor dijo, ‘tu sabes debemos hacer algo porque es realmente agradable que los niños pueden hacerlo en la escuela’ … Yo mire a Flor y dijo que ellos probablemente no tendrían (la pista de patinaje) si ustedes no tuvieran la idea,” Ernesto Cuc dijo.

Debido al pandémico de COVID-19, hay limitaciones para cuántos niños pueden tomar al bus en el mismo momento, pues patinaje de hielo en los terrenos del rodeo no será una posibilidad este año. Flor es la madre de dos estudiantes en CRES. A ella se ocurrió la idea de tener una pista de patinaje en los terrenos de la escuela, así que los estudiantes podrían caminar en lugar de eso.

“(La idea) actualmente fue porque a veces trabajo como voluntaria en la escuela para mis hijas … Yo recuerdo (durante la clase de educación física) fue muy difícil poner a los niños en botas y cargar todas las cosas (a los terrenos de rodeo),” Flor dijo.

Ella vio que la escuela tenía espacio suficiente para la construcción de una pista de patinaje y dijo a Madsen que la empresa familiar, Cuc Construction, debe ser feliz para ayudar con el proceso de construcción.

“Realmente quiero dar una declaración por la familia de Cuc porque no hacerlo ni tuve una manera de obtener la mano de obra aquí (sin ellos),” Madsen dijo.

Ahora los estudiantes podrían patinar sobre hielo en los terrenos de la escuela para los años por venir gracias a la generosidad de la familia de Cuc y la actitud innovadora de Madsen.

También hay una recaudación de fondos se llama Rams Run cada año que contribuye con el presupuesto de la clase de educación física. Los niños no necesitan equipo propio para tratar esquí o patinaje — la escuela puede proveer para ellos uno clase a uno para una gama grande de números de zapatos.

“Si vas aquí es como un país de las maravillas de deportes de invierno afuera. Hay niños patinando, hay niños esquían; es muy genial,” Madsen dijo.

Ernesto Cuc dijo que sus hijas solamente patinaban de hielo en la escuela, y cuando pudieron ver la pista de patinaje nueva en los terrenos de escuela ellas estaban muy emocionadas. Cuc enfatizó que quería dar gracias a Madsen y el resto del personal en CRES por habilitarlos a seguir con la construcción de la pista de patinaje.

“Es una cosa que no haces todos los días y cuando hacemos algo como este sentimos muy bien … tu sabes que los niños están disfrutando, ellos están usándolo. Es nada en comparación a lo que hacemos todos los días.”


Ice rink at Carbondale school helps kids embrace the outdoors during COVID

Crystal River Elementary School second grader Melanie Petatan practices how to use cross country skis just outside of the school during gym class.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Marty Madsen is in his 18th year as a P.E. teacher for students at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale. His goal as an educator is to help students experience a wide variety of sports and shape them into being good human beings along the way.

Crystal River Elementary School third grader Tyler Orf races around the ice rink during gym class just outside of the school on Monday morning.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School second grader Ashley Meraz-Mancinas leads the way on skis while learning to cross country ski with her classmates.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“So many of these kids are good at different things, and if you can have a child be really good at ice skating … that just makes them feel so much better about themselves. That’s what I want to do as a teacher, build self-confidence, build good human beings and good kids,” Madsen said.

Madsen began teaching third graders how to Nordic ski when he came across some old equipment in the basement of the former school building. As time went on, he also incorporated ice skating for the students with a shuttle bus to the town rink at the Carbondale Rodeo grounds.

Crystal River Elementary School gym teacher Marty Madsen plays some hockey with students on the newly built ice rink.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School third grader Liam Beery plays some hockey on the newly built ice rink just outside the school during gym class.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Madsen said he never thought he would be able to provide his students with an ice rink on school grounds, and yet this year with the help of CRES parents Flor and Ernesto Cuc, he was able to pull it off.

“Flor said, ‘you know we should do something because it’s really nice for the kids to be able to do that at school’… I looked at Flor and said they probably wouldn’t have (the rink) if you guys didn’t come up with the idea,” Ernesto Cuc said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are limitations for how many children can be on a bus at a time, so skating at the rodeo grounds was not going to be a possibility this year. Flor is the mother of two students at CRES. She came up with the idea to have a rink on school grounds so students could just walk to it instead.

Crystal River Elementary School second graders head back inside after a morning of cross country skiing in gym class outside of the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School second graders learn to use cross country skis while in gym class just outside of the school on Monday morning.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“(The idea) actually was because sometimes I volunteer at the school for my daughters … I remember (during gym class) it was so hard to put all the kids in the boots and carry all the stuff (to the rodeo grounds),” Flor said.

She saw that the school had ample space for a rink to be built and passed along to Madsen that the family business, Cuc Construction, would be happy to help with the building process.

“I really want to give the Cuc family a major shout out because I wouldn’t have done it or had any way of getting the man power over here (without them),” Madsen said.

Crystal River Elementary School third grader Althea Nims Gracy laces up the ice skates before hitting the newly built ice rink just outside of the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
Crystal River Elementary School second grader Ashley Meraz-Mancinas cruises on by while cross country skiing with her classmates outside of the school.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Now students will be able to ice skate on school grounds in the years to come thanks to the generosity of the Cuc family and innovative attitude held by Madsen.

The yearly Rams Run fundraiser at CRES contributes to the P.E. class budget. Kids are not required to have their own equipment in order to try skiing or skating — the school is able to provide for them one class at a time for a wide range of shoe sizes.

“If you come over here it’s like a winter sports wonderland outside. You got kids skating, you got kids skiing; it’s pretty cool,” Madsen said.

Ernesto Cuc said his daughters had only ever ice skated at school, and when they were able to use the new rink on school grounds they were over the moon. Cuc emphasized how he wanted to thank Madsen and the rest of the staff at CRES for enabling them to go forward with the construction of the rink.

“It’s one of the things you don’t do everyday and when we do something like this we feel really good … you know that the kids are actually enjoying it, they’re using it. It’s nothing compared to what we do everyday.”