Colter Elementary will open as quasi-daycare/school

JACKSON, Wyo. –

UPDATE: District officials announced May 15 that they will not be able to open Colter Elementary School after all. A thorough analysis of resources needed found inadequate staffing numbers will make the plan unfeasible.

It will be back to school for some, sort of, as Jackson students K-5 will be allowed to return to Colter Elementary on May 18.

They announced the plan May 1 when Teton County School District (TCSD) superintendent Gillian Chapman held an online press conference where she described using the school as a daycare option where parents could leave their kids in a supervised setting.

TCSD communications coordinator Charlotte Reynolds confirmed the district will allow K-5 students to return to school for a modified, supervised schedule that will include outdoor recess, lunch, and a continuation of online learning while at the school.

School administrators will follow strict guidelines from the county, state, and federal health officials concerning COVID. No more than 180 students will be allowed in the building at any one time. Classrooms will be limited to 8 students, max, and one staff member.

Teachers will not be in the building. They will continue to teach their students according to the adapted earning plan while they are in Colter. The reason for that is there are simply not enough teachers or space to hold classes in a regular manner.

“Returning to a normal school day with max 10 in a classroom, there is no way I can effectively do this. There is not enough space or staff,” Chapman said. “If that changes to 30 let’s say, I could potentially rework things. But we can’t get more buses, though.”

Chapman said she is moving methodically ahead with step-by-step measures that can be implemented safely with the health of everyone in mind.

Frontline and essential workers in Teton County have been hard-pressed for child supervision with the closing of most daycare facilities. Chapman said this was one way to relieve the hardship placed on parents who have been working or will begin to get back to work in the coming weeks.

The operation of Colter Elementary as a daycare of sorts will continue through the regular school year, slated to end June 12. No decision has been made yet about shortening or extending the school year, or about what 2020-21 might look like.

Wyoming’s 48 school districts have been closed for more than a month in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Park County School District (Powell, Cody), Natrona County School District, Albany County School District, Campbell County School District, Sweetwater County School District (Green River), Fremont County School District #1, and Sublette County School District #9 have already announced kids will not return to school buildings this spring.

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