BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – The Adams 12 School District is moving forward with a learning pod model to help families unable to provide their students with the resources needed for remote learning. Classrooms have been configured to allow for social distancing while requiring face coverings so students can operate devices and participate in classes virtually.
“In Adams 12, we really pride ourselves and are honored to serve a really diverse community,” said Tara Peña, executive director of schools for the district. “We will be able to effectively keep our students safe as well as our staff safe.”
Following guidelines from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the ideal distance for students is six feet but three feet is acceptable. So desks are marked with green stickers to keep students at least three feet apart while accommodating enough students in each room or learning pod.
“Just trying to keep our students very mindful around social distancing and mask wearing,” said Stacy Gahagen, security services director and the COVID workplace coordinator for the district. “You don’t see anything soft and fuzzy that can’t be easily decontaminated or disinfected.”
The minimum furniture needed in the classroom will help to avoid potential surfaces where the coronavirus could spread. Hallways are marked outside of the classroom with arrows and dividing lines to avoid students having face-to-face contact. A sick bay for medical staff will separate any students who are showing symptoms in the health office at schools. If a staff member needs to get closer to a student and cannot maintain six feet, additional PPE like face shields or N95 masks will be available.
“We’ve really gone through and we’ve tried to ensure that we don’t have things that are going to be shared,” Gahagen told CBS4. “It’s a much more sterile environment right now for our students to come back into.”
The learning pod model will place up to 12 students in one room, likely of the same grade and studying together in a cohort. If students are attending school for a learning pod, they will receive breakfast and lunch. There will also be scheduled breaks for recess. As teachers and subjects change with different classes throughout the day, students will remain in the same room using their laptop or tablet.
“This is really an idea that was generated by our district leadership and it really was based on need,” Peña said. “The last two years in Adams 12 we have had a focus on knowing our students by name, strength, and need.”
This model is targeted for elementary, middle, and K-8 schools in the district. While a teacher is not in the room, a learning pod leader will be in there to support students while they study remotely. Leaders include classified staff like guest teachers or para educators.
“We see a need and we want to be able to meet our community where they’re at,” Peña said. “Regardless of their circumstances to be able to provide them a safe and productive environment to engage in remote learning.”
The district created an interest form for parents to request to enroll in a learning pod. So far staff estimate they can serve 7,000 students as the new school year begins. There is no cost to families and devices are provided if students need them in their pod. Mobile hot spots will give families the chance to fill out an interest form online if they do not have access to internet at home. The district has already received requests from families for 3,900 students to participate in a learning pod as of Thursday afternoon.
“It really is innovative and responsive to the needs of our community,” Peña said. “We’re excited to partner and share what we’re learning and see what’s possible for our students.”