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Rifle and Coal Ridge High School return to in-person classes

To help minimize contacts between students and adults Garfield School District Re-2 changes class layout to a block system as they return to learning Monday

Coal Ridge High School
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Nearly six months after schools abruptly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person learning in Garfield School District Re-2 is back. Students reported to high school campuses in Rifle and New Castle on Monday.

Unlike the elementary schools in the district, which is going with a cohort plan, the district has spent the last few weeks rearranging high schools around a block schedule.

“High school students take so many different classes, and their achievement levels are different, it is really hard to truly cohort a class like you can in elementary,” Director of Communications Theresa Hamilton said. “This was a way to limit the number of close contacts that students have with other students and adults, by reducing the number of passing periods.”

Last year students had seven classes; they will have eight with the new schedule this year. Students will have four 90-minute periods daily one day and the next day they will have four different classes that will each be 90 minutes as well. The third day will rotate back to the first four classes.

Hamilton said some of the associated benefits included is that students will be able to have eight classes instead of seven, which will help students who might have fallen behind last year, allowing flexibility for intervention classes. The new block schedule could help with the transition if the school would ever need to go to the hybrid system allowing students to come every other day.

The block system will make for just five passing periods for students, reducing it from the usual nine passing periods during a typical day at the high school level.

“We’re trying to limit the number of close contacts that students have with other students and adults, so if there is a positive test within the building we are able to minimize the number of students that would be excluded from in-person instruction,” Hamilton said. “I think all of the changes that have been made this year, everything from transportation to cleaning protocols, from scheduling to no visitors process that we have put in place are going to be up for continual review and modification based numbers and guidance from public health on what are the best support that we can put in place for our kids and our staff.”

A big challenge for district officials and staff has been rescheduling and reaching out to families and their students as they adapt to the different frameworks.

With both systems of instruction set up to build relationships and get used to the new process in the first two weeks before getting into the heavy instruction, students will have the flexibility to switch learning models.

Hamilton said the district would evaluate all of the processes and procedures very closely and regularly during the first semester as they monitor numbers in the school and beyond.

“The superintendent meets with principals on a regular basis, and as we find things that are working really well we share them amongst our principal’s teams. And when we find things that we know aren’t working the way we thought they were going to work, we have to be flexible enough to adapt,” Hamilton said. “The passion these educators, principals, and classified staff have to dedicate three extra weeks of time over the summer, staying up late, and work weekends to make sure we are in the best possible position to get kids back is awe-inspiring.”

kmills@citizentelegram.com


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