The Roaring Fork School District (RFSD) Board of Education meeting on Oct. 27, held via Zoom, focused on the implications of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11. Also, the board discussed a bilingual communications plan for the district to address federal requirements to provide language access for families that are not primarily English-speaking.
The meeting began with Superintendent Rob Stein presenting Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) guidance updates on COVID protocols.
Stein said the district will continue to stay the course with a mask mandate, noting in RFSD “the incidence rates are about nine times higher than what would have been recommended as conditions for unmasking, so we’re still not really in the safety zone, in Garfield County anyway, in terms of the level of COVID cases that are present in our community.”
However, quarantine incidences have dropped dramatically from a year ago. Stein shared that, so far this school year, RFSD has had a total of 12 quarantines, resulting in 35 students and two staff members quarantining. Last year, RFSD had an average of 131 students per day out of school due to quarantines.
RFSD Chief of Student and Family Services, Anna Cole, said the district worked with local health partners this spring to set up vaccine clinics in the high schools and some middle schools. Cole said the CDPHE now anticipates the rollout of COVID vaccines for children ages five to 11, early this month.
Cole continued that the district would partner with Mountain Family Health Centers to facilitate on-site vaccination clinics at district elementary and middle schools and provide another round of offering vaccines at the high schools.
As of yet, the FDA has not provided a schedule for the vaccine rollout but, Cole shared, “the minute we get that information from Mountain Family, we will kick into trying to make those vaccines as accessible as possible to families that would like to have that done at school.” She said the on-site clinics would also offer vaccine boosters to school staff.
The in-school vaccination services are provided at no cost to the district, similar to other health services like dental hygiene clinics and vision and hearing screenings, Cole said.
“Ideally, we could get families access to two doses, so that kids could be fully-vaccinated going into the winter break,” she explained, “But it’s all kind of a little bit of a timing game. It’s a continuation of our commitment to equity and access to resources to let schools be a site for that.”
Cole announced that the state’s mobile vaccination bus is coming to the Roaring Fork Valley on Nov. 16 and 17. It will be located in the parking lot of the Basalt Middle School. COVID vaccines and booster shots will be available to the general public. Pre-registration is encouraged, and limited walk-up appointments are available. To make an appointment, visit: https://www.mobilevax.us/western-slope
An update on one of the district’s ten strategic initiatives — bilingual communications — was presented by Yerania Moreno, hired in October as a bilingual communications specialist.
The initiative began a couple of years ago, with the district developing and implementing a bilingual communication toolkit. The toolkit is based on stakeholder feedback gathered last year. Feedback will continue to be collected this year in order to establish best practices around language access and language justice.
In October, the district launched a conference interpretation services pilot to facilitate last week’s parent-teacher conferences and offer additional interpretation services for teachers or staff who wish to conduct telephone calls to parents. Moreno also said the remaining district policies, which had yet to be translated into Spanish, were sent to legal translation experts for translation required by federal law.
In addition, Moreno said, “We coordinated with our family liaisons and the Family Resource Center on best practices for implementing interpretation, and how to best use final feedback from the leaders at our schools.”
The details of the bilingual communications plan include soliciting feedback from families and staff to ensure that benchmarks are being met. At the beginning of 2022, Moreno explained, “we would develop a mini report on strategic initiatives, including having the board review our toolkit and the allocation of resources needed through the district’s budget office to do this work.”