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Principal's Message

Community Newsletter Jan. 22, 2021

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, We are still on track to reopen for in-person learning on February 1st. We have one important calendar change that will impact students next week. The professional development day for teachers that was scheduled for the 25th has been moved to the 27th. There will not be live remote instruction on that day, but some students may have homework to get caught up with so it will be important for them to stay on top of their email communication with their teachers. In addition, we are currently planning to bring back athletic programs for our 7th and 8th graders when we return (middle school athletics does not include 6th graders). We will start with basketball on February 8th for both boys and girls teams. The rationale to start athletics at the middle school level is twofold. Many students are involved in after school activities where they already break our cohort model. Running our programs ensures students have an athletic opportunity that adheres to approved guidelines from local and state public health agencies. The second reason is more obvious - students benefit from structured team activities. The pandemic will significantly change our programs. The bullets below outline the key safety measures. Students will be required to wear masks. Students will be grouped in fifteen athletes to one coach ratio. While in level orange, athletics will be structured more as skills camps to allow for social distancing. Scrimmaging and competition will resume once community spread decreases significantly. It is likely that we will first introduce games with only Miller Middle School to avoid travel when community spread decreases. Barring any unforeseen events, which have been fairly common recently, we intend to bring back the following sports on these dates. Basketball: February 8th - March 12th. Boys and girls will alternate practice times before and after school. If we have over 90 athletes sign up, we will have two practices a week to allow all students to participate and not exceed capacity. If fewer than 90 athletes sign up, we will practice three to four days a week. Volleyball and Football: March 22nd - April 23rd. Track: April 26th - May 28th. In order to participate, there is a $50 fee - families on the free and reduced lunch program have the cost waived, so please reach out to Mr. Voss or Ms. Duce if this is a barrier to participation. Students also need a current physical (within one calendar year) on file to participate. You can schedule a physical for your child with your primary care physician or at an Urgent Care. Depending on your insurance, there may be a cost for physicals. Unfortunately, we could not secure a health agency to offer free physicals this year. Pediatric Partners @ DHS accepts Medicaid and can do sports physicals. Their contact info is Pediatric Partners of the Southwest at (970) 375-0100 extension 2. Pediatric Partners advises that if your student has gotten a well check in the last year that counts as well. As we organize our practice plans, it will be extremely helpful to know as soon as possible if you’d like your 7th or 8th grader to participate in basketball. Please email Ms. Eva Duce at educe@durangoschools.org with questions or to hold a roster spot for your child. In addition, you can formally sign up your child and get the necessary forms by following this link: https://durangoschools-ar.rschooltoday.com. We will be resuming our Tuesday night community meetings this coming week to provide information and answer questions about our return to learn plan. The link is directly below this letter. Thank you for your continued support. These are certainly tough times where I’m finding that well-intentioned plans often change, so I’ll pass along updates as soon as I get them. Throughout this entire pandemic, I’ve always been thankful that I live in Durango and am in a blessed role to serve such a stellar community. Escalante's parents have demonstrated so much grace to me personally and to our staff that I cannot thank you enough. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal For the FULL Newsletter, please see the link below
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Principal's Message

Pivot to Remote Learning 11/11/2020

Dear Escalante Community, Thank you for your understanding as we pivot to Remote Learning due to the COVID-19 surge we are currently seeing in our community. Our intention is to serve students in-person, but the impact on our ability to staff our schools became so diminished with the need to quarantine that we were forced to go remote through December 18th. On December 11th, our school district will make a decision about how we will reopen schools in January; remote, blended, and in-person are all possible options. The rate of spread of the virus will inform the decision. If your family is experiencing technology issues, here are some ways we can help. Contact Mr. Tidwell through email at stidwell@durangoschools.org. He is committed to shepherd EMS through our remote experience, and he can help get you the support you need. If you need help with internet access or receiving an additional laptop, contact Ian Lennox, ilennox@durangoschools.org, or Kim Osby. kosby@durangoschools.org. I understand that technology struggles can be extremely frustrating, but please be kind when you contact them as Steve, Kim, and Ian are working extremely hard to solve problems as they arise. For the duration of the remote closure, we will be conducting weekly Zoom meetings on Tuesdays from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. We will utilize the Zoom translation technology for our Spanish speaking families. The purpose of these meetings is to: Provide updates to the community about remote education at EMS Collect feedback from the community to improve our systems Communicate strategies for parents about supporting your child’s remote instruction. Counselors will lead these portions and rely on Neurosequential Model in Education (NME) research. Watch for IC Messages that will include the Zoom Meeting information. Not getting IC messages? Contact Dona in office 247-9490. Work is also currently underway to get started on projects using funds from our recently passed bond. If you would like to be involved in the planning process, you can apply to join the Bond Oversight Committee by following the link below. On a final note, keep in mind that we have no school from November 21 - November 30. Classes will resume after break on Tuesday, December 1st. I hope to see you next Tuesday night over Zoom, and thank you again for your understanding as we pivot to remote instruction. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss and David Tanaka EMS, Administration
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Principal's Message

Message from the Principals 8/05/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, 8/5/2020 As of today, about twenty-five percent of our families have selected a model of learning for the coming school year. Yesterday, we conducted two live Zoom sessions to assist people who had questions about their selection. If you would like to view a recording of the session, you can watch it by following the link below. The first thirty minutes covers safety procedures. The second thirty minutes gives information about the set-up of our schedule and explains the three models: 5 days in person Blended home and remote 100% remote After I viewed the recording, it is clear that I have a long way to go before I’m ready for a television career! While it will be short on entertainment, you will find detailed information on our plans for next year. Sorry, but we were unable to download the chat for some reason. See the 8/04/2020 Zoom Community Updates link below: Once your family has selected a learning model, please complete the school district’s form as soon as possible. The deadline is August 10th. If you have already filled out the form, but have changed your mind, you can fill out the survey again and we will go with the most recent survey. See the link to the form below. As soon as we have all of the information from the selection form, we will begin to build our Crews for next year. Keep in mind that we will be forming all new crews this year due to the strict guidelines set out by the state. The most restrictive safety measure on our scheduling is that students will be with their Crew for the entire day - we will go to great lengths to avoid any mixing of our student cohorts. Because social interaction is so important for our students, we are making attempts to pair each student with at least one friend who they work well with. If you would like us to consider social connections for your child, you can complete the form below to help guide our decisions when we build cohorts. This survey will close on the 10th as well. See the link to that survey below. I have a few other updates to share with our school community. Athletics: The state has postponed fall and winter athletics to the Spring. Depending on the local circumstances, we will have all of our middle school sports’ seasons compacted into our Spring athletic season. As we get closer to February, we will share information about sports. Volleyball and football will not start next week. We will provide updates when we receive clarification on our ability to resume a program on an intramural level. Delayed Start to the School Year: Last night, our school board pushed back the start of our school year to August 31st. Back to School Night Zoom Style and a new School Day Preview Event at Escalante will be scheduled during the week of August 24th. Even though we will be delaying school, we will be using that time to prepare students and families for the school year. As soon as we have dates selected, I will email them out, but your attendance at these events will be instrumental to our ability to have a successful launch for our school year. Thank you for your patience, input, and participation as we prepare for the 2020-2021 school year. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss and David Tanaka EMS, Administration
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Principal's Message

Final Thoughts From Principal Voss - Have a Great Summer!

Dear EMS Community, As we bring the 19-20 school year to a close, the 20-21 school year planning is ramping up. There is one last step to finishing this year - finalizing year-end grades and mailing them home. This year, the vast majority of our students will be getting grades of Pass, Pass Minus, or No Credit. While no credit sounds ominous, it would best be labeled Not Yet Demonstrated. Essentially, there is no judgement behind these grades as we are aware that families had vastly different circumstances during the closure, and the onus is on us to accelerate students to address any gaps in learning that may have occurred. No students will be repeating a middle school grade because of the closure, and our teachers are already at work building in potential learning gaps into next year's curriculum maps so that all students can demonstrate learning. Currently, I am working on scheduling for next year and preparing for a wide range of possibilities. The most current word I have from the state can be viewed in the article below: https://co.chalkbeat.org/2020/6/3/21279852/colorado-schools-fall-plans-reopening-polis-predicts-larger-classes When we start-up in the fall, it is looking like we will either be in a blended model, which combines two days of school with home-based learning, or in a model that allows for up to 25 students in a class, which would allow us to schedule a traditional approach combined with safety precautions. By the end of June, I anticipate having more clarity on Colorado's plan to reopen schools, and I will be sharing information with our families as soon as I have concrete information. On a final note, I am also working to start up a summer learning program. As of today, 87 families have indicated that they are interested in summer school based on the most recent district survey. If you have yet to take that survey, please follow this link: https://app.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?DFFB9788DE9B8F84DD If you indicated that you would like your child to participate in summer school, I will reaching out with our plan once we have finalized the structure and dates of the program. I hope you have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer and I look forward seeing you all when school resumes in the fall. Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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Principal's Message

Community Newsletter 5/04/2020

Dear Escalante Middle School Community, The week of May 4 to May 8 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Under normal circumstances, we would treat our teachers to a wonderful lunch and honor them with kind notes and cards. This year, please encourage your child to drop them a nice line as they turn in their weekly assignments. Like many professions, this is a very challenging time to be a teacher, and I am extremely grateful for their perseverance and kindness throughout the school closure. Over the past few weeks, we have seen an uptick in concerns for students and families who are struggling with anxiety, grief, and stress. Ian Lennox, Kristen Spielgel, and Theresa Jennings collaborated to put together an informative video about stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you to watch the video below. Many of our staff, myself included, found the information extremely helpful. Additionally, we will be conducting Life Presentations for our 8th graders this year. The information will soon be distributed to students, and much of Life Presentation content will be completed through students’ 8th-grade assignments. Please encourage your child to complete the Life Presentation as it provides an opportunity to have a meaningful reflection of their middle years that will support their transition into high school. On a final note, this week we are working with the district to finalize plans for how students will drop off school materials such as uniforms, technology, or books that belong to the school, as well as retrieve any belongings they may have left at the school. My hope is that we can communicate these detailed plans next week. Thank you for your continued support. Sincerely, Jeremy Voss EMS, Principal
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News & Announcements

9-R Community Update from Medical Director - 2/24/21

9-R Families, please click Read More to see a video from the 9-R Medical Director with updates around the district's COVID response and updates around vaccines, testing options and dial updates from our community.

Escalante/Miller Basketball Scrimmage Information 2/22/2021

Hello Escalante Basketball Families, 2/22/2021 We have gotten the go-ahead to have two scrimmages each against Miller for our girls and boys basketball teams. Here are the dates and details. The 7th and 8th team divisions aren’t exact based on numbers so your athlete's coach will make sure they know which game they are playing in. We will have a bus transport the athletes to Miller and plan on scrimmaging from 4:00 -5:00 PM. Please plan on picking your athlete up at the site where they played at 5:00 PM. There won’t be a return bus from Miller to Escalante. If your student athlete cannot attend, please let coaches know ASAP so they can plan. To ensure a safe event, the following protocols will be in place for all scrimmages: No spectators are allowed at Miller or Escalante All student athletes on both teams will be screened and have their temperatures checked prior to boarding the bus or entering the gym. Masks will be worn during the games. (We will ensure frequent mask and water breaks). Girls Scrimmage Dates: Monday March 1st 7th grade girls play at Home 8th grade girls play at MMS Tuesday March 9th 7th grade girls play at MMS 8th grade girls play at Home Boys Scrimmage Dates: Thursday March 4th 7th grade boys play at Home 8th grade boys play at MMS Thursday March 11th 7th grade boys play at MMS 8th grade boys play at Home Thank you for your support! If you have questions, please call A.D. Duce at 247-9490 Ext 2822.

Athletic News 1/22/2021

We are currently planning to bring back athletic programs for our 7th and 8th graders when we return on February 1 (middle school athletics does not include 6th graders). We will start with basketball on February 8th for both boys and girls teams. The rationale to start athletics at the middle school level is twofold. READ MORE

9-R Board of Education Coffee Chat 2/18/21

Please join the 9-R Board of Education for their upcoming community "Coffee Chat", which allows an open dialogue between the community and the board. Come share your glows, grows and hopes for your child's education and our school district.

9-R Board of Education Coffee Chat - February 18, 2021

Join Board Members Erika Brown and Andrea Parmenter for an upcoming "Coffee Chat". Share how everything is going, growing or needing to go! The virtual get together is this Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 5-6 pm via Zoom.

Update for Families on In-Person Learning

Many families are wondering what our next steps will be for increasing in-person learning for students as we continue to see a reduction in local transmission rates and move through the state dial on COVID risk. Next Monday is a scheduled holiday in recognition of President’s Day, and next week we will continue to have Wednesday as a remote learning day. So in-person students will attend Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the week of the 15th.

Escalante Middle School Cohorts to Quarantine - 2.9.21

On February 9, 2021, 9-R was notified by San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) that an individual at Escalante Middle School tested positive for COVID-19. The school and the district are working proactively with the SJBPH to make the appropriate notifications and next steps for those who may have been in close contact with this individual.

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