COLORADO SPRINGS — As the coronavirus continues to disrupt education, Colorado Springs school districts are still moving forward with School Choice but with a few changes.
For years, districts have participated in the program, helping families find the best fit for their children, regardless of where they live.
"We found an awesome school when our choices were expanded that offered Orchestra. It made our transition easier, our kids happier," said Rhonda Shea, Academy School District 20 parent.
Shea choice into Academy School District 20 after moving into town. She says she supports the district moving forward with School Choice, and offer parents more time to decide on a school.
"The more time you have to decide on schools and look at it, I think the easier transition it might be for all," said Shea.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the district has not only extended the application window but has moved everything online, offering multiple options for the first time.
"We've committed to three sets of options. So if you don't feel comfortable going in-person you can go fully online, you can do a hybrid option, and hopefully, we can get back to the place we can do in-person five days a week," said Allison Cortez, Chief Communication Officer for Academy School District 20.
Shea says she appreciates the district offering a wide variety of options this year.
"I think it gives us more choices, gives us more flexibility and I personally like it," said Shea.
Her daughters chose hybrid, but they're ready to pivot if need be. With the changes, the district says parents shouldn't be worried about losing their spot in their neighborhood school.
"We have some small instances where the school closer to your home is full and we know it can be frustrating and we're looking at that for the future," said Cortez.
The district says the extra time will allow them to find the kids who haven't shown up this year.
"What we think happened is that parents took the year off, they took a gap year. They might be homeschooling and maybe they didn't know they had to complete paperwork to home-school. So the students are showing up somewhere, so we need to get them back into the pipeline and re-engaged with education," said Cortez.
Regardless of where kids go, the district says it's important they get enrolled this year to prevent any learning gaps.
Currently, they're accepting School Choice applications for families within district boundaries. The application will open for all families, regardless of where they live, in January. Parents should check with their district for any changes being made this year due to the pandemic.