COLORADO SPRINGS — Several school districts have put out their reopening plans for the fall, with new options and public health guidance in mind.
One of them, Widefield School District 3, plans to open their doors August 17 with modified in-person learning. Students and staff will attend classes five days a week.
For families uncomfortable or unwilling to send their child to school, parents can opt for an online education program called "D3 My Way."
D3 My Way was designed to be able to transition students from traditional school to an online setting and back to traditional school when the parent and student are ready to go back to school.
The district also outlined a hybrid model which is a combination of in-person and at home distance learning. This would be implemented if dictated by the health department. Students will have four or five classes meet in person daily either three or four days a week. On the one or two days a week students will not be in-person at school, they will work independently at their own pace and time.
The plan to reopen includes safety measures recommended by the state and local health department. Common areas will be marked with reminders to social distance and wear face coverings as appropriate. Plexiglass shields have been installed in the front office of every school. Hand sanitizer will be provided in each classroom and through the building.
The district will also be limiting outside visitors including volunteers. There will be an increase of fresh air circulation by opening windows and use of fans.
Katelyn Wood is a Widefield School District 3 parent. She says she has concerns with the district's reopening plan.
"With the in-person plan, I have somewhat mixed emotions. I like how their increasing the sanitizer stations and making sure the six feet social distancing is followed," said Wood. "The only thing that I'm kind of concerned about is the mask idea."
Wood says her six-year-old daughter has severe anxiety and it's been hard getting her to wear a mask.
"I've been fighting with her ever since this thing started. To get her comfortable with wearing a mask, trying to make it fun for her," said Wood. "When I told her the school plans, I told her you will have to wear this all everyday everyday when you go to school," said Wood.
Wood says she wants to try in-person learning because her daughter has had a hard time with distance learning.
"When COVID-19 started and everything got switched to online, it was hard for her to keep up. She was so used to that hands on interaction," said Wood.
She says distance learning would also be difficult because she is a single parent with a specific schedule.
Lei-Lana Barela has two children in Widefield School District 3 this upcoming school year. She's decided to keep them at home, a decision that was confirmed after the death of her mother-in-law Sunday morning.
"This morning, we got a call from the doctor's and she passed away so far me it's scary. It hit home because my kids could bring it home," said Barela.
With her and her son being immune-compromised, they've asked the district to do the distance learning approach. A decision that her kids didn't necessarily agree with at first.
"At first they were kinda upset about it because they wanted to be with their friends and they need that socialization," said Barela.
She says she talked with her son and daughter about the dangers of going back to school. After the discussion, they decided it was important for them to stay home for the school year.
"When I explained to them that if i get sick and go into the hospital, I might not make it because I don't have an immune system," said Barela. "It's something that I didn't want to pressure my kids or tell my kids but it's the reality."
Barela thinks the district's plan is vague and needs to be more specific. She says the district needs to explain more in detail how they're going to maintain social distancing and cleaning, especially between class and lunchtime.
With the additional safety precautions in place, she also questions how likely kids will adhere to them.
"Who's going to make sure that they're washing their hands, that they're wearing their masks, and not touching stuff. Who's going to constantly sanitize," said Barela.
She encourages everyone to follow state guidelines and wear a mask. She says whether you're for or against them, wearing one could potentially save a life.
For more information on the district's reopening plan, click here.