Masks, vaccinations, staffing shortages: District 11 releases Return to Learn plan

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COLORADO SPRINGS — In-person learning, optional masks, and staffing challenges are all part of Colorado Springs School District 11’s Return to Learning Plan for Spring Semester 2022.

According to Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Thomas, all schools in Colorado Springs School District 11 will resume in-person learning on Wednesday, Jan 5. Schools are expected to honor parent and staff choices regarding facial coverings and/or vaccinations. However, masks will be required when using district transportation.

We encourage everyone to adhere to important personal hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and keeping your child(ren) home if they have any COVID-like symptoms. 

Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Thomas

When it comes to isolation and quarantine guidelines, District 11 is reviewing the El Paso County Public Health’s latest guidelines:

The updated guidance shortens the recommended time for isolation from ten days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic on day five, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. The CDC stated that this change is based on science demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to symptom onset and the two to three days after. CDC also updated the recommended quarantine period for those who have been exposed to COVID-19. CDC and CDPHE now recommend quarantine for five days followed by mask use for an additional five days for individuals who are unvaccinated or are eligible for a booster but have not received one yet, defined as six months from their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or two months after their Johnson & Johnson dose.”

The school district also addressed staffing shortages exacerbated by the Omicron variant.

“We expect these challenges to increase with the arrival of the omicron variant over the coming weeks,” Thomas wrote. “We have a significant need for substitute teachers, as well as other positions across the District. If you or anyone you know might be interested in these opportunities, please visit www.d11.org/hr or call (719) 520-2000.”

Read the full release here:

I hope you are enjoying the last few days of winter break. I’m looking forward to welcoming our students back to school for the second semester. As you know, COVID is presenting us with the arrival of the more transmissible Omicron variant. We will continue to lead with health and safety so we can minimize the interruptions to the in-person learning experience that has proven so valuable to our students. 

All schools in Colorado Springs School District 11 will resume in person at the start of this semester, Wednesday, January 5, 2022. We will continue to honor parent and staff choices regarding the decision to wear facial coverings and/or to access vaccinations. Students and staff will still be required to wear masks/facial covering while using district transportation due to a federal mandate. We encourage everyone to adhere to important personal hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, social distancing and keeping your child(ren) home if they have any COVID-like symptoms. 

The CDC recently updated guidance on isolations and quarantines. As a result, El Paso County Public Health released the following information, which we are currently reviewing:

  “The updated guidance shortens the recommended time for isolation from ten days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic on day five, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. The CDC stated that this change is based on science demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to symptom onset and the two to three days after. CDC also updated the recommended quarantine period for those who have been exposed to COVID-19. CDC and CDPHE now recommend quarantine for five days followed by mask use for an additional five days for individuals who are unvaccinated or are eligible for a booster but have not received one yet, defined as six months from their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or two months after their Johnson & Johnson dose.”

You may also be aware that the virus has impacted D11 staffing across our schools and departments. We expect these challenges to increase with the arrival of the omicron variant over the coming weeks. We have a significant need for substitute teachers, as well as other positions across the District. If you or anyone you know might be interested in these opportunities, please visit www.d11.org/hr or call (719) 520-2000.

The District continues to work alongside public health officials and we review new guidance as it is released. You may always view the updates to our Return to Learn plan at www.d11.org/returntolearn to see all the prevention strategies in place. 

Thank you for your continued trust and I look forward to a strong finish to this school year.

Yours in Partnership, 

Dr. Michael J. Thomas, Superintendent
Colorado Springs School District 11

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