Re-2 to extend online learning opportunities for high schoolers next year |

Re-2 to extend online learning opportunities for high schoolers next year

After experiencing online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, some Garfield Re-2 students don’t necessarily want to go back to traditional, in-person learning practices next year.

The district recently surveyed middle and high school students, which asked for feedback on online learning opportunities. Some middle school students identified that they needed more academic support, while some high schoolers said online learning offered them more flexibility with other, non-academic responsibilities.

At its peak during the 2020-2021 school year, there were more than 800 Re-2 students in online learning, according to the district.

The school board spent its April 14 meeting deciding whether to extend online learning opportunities to middle and high school students. The effort is in light of the Colorado Department of Education allowing local school districts flexibility for online learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

“We also want to select students in an equitable way by targeting those who are not successful in a traditional classroom for whatever reason,” Re-2 teacher Arielle Sokol said. “Whether it’s they don’t have a good home environment, they have to watch another kid — and that’s what we looked at.”

Sokol is a part of an online design team tasked with developing online learning opportunities for students.

The design team presented options for the district to pursue in an effort to provide tools to support students in their graduation goals while providing flexibility.

The district has seen more failing grades with students who do online instruction. Online instruction, however, has continued to decline across the district.

District administrators have so far advised against online opportunities for middle school students unless COVID-19 variants continue to be problematic during the next academic year. They did, however, agree to provide supplemental online learning opportunities to high school students using a platform called Edgenuity.

“What we know how to do is educate kids in buildings, and I feel like — and also listening to the administrative recommendations — that I’d say I wouldn’t recommend going forward with our middle school platform,” Superintendent Heather Grumley said. “And the high school option, I think that there is room there. We’ve seen it, the genie’s out of the bottle in regards to, we do have high schoolers right now that are on a limited number of days they spend in the building.”

Board member Tom Slappey said he agreed middle schoolers need to stay in person.

“Our middle schoolers need to be in middle school where they can be as much as they can,” he said. “I think our high schoolers have a little more responsibility, a little more maturity, that they can function and be a little bit different environment.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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