Upper Rio Grande School plans for normal opening

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell The Upper Rio Grande School District is putting the final touches on the draft opening plan for the 2021-2022 school year.

DEL NORTE — The Upper Rio Grande School District (URGSD) will be releasing a 2021-2022 opening plan in the coming weeks. The district is cautiously optimistic it can start the current school year as it finished the last.

“We had a really great thing going at the end of last year. We will be continuing sanitation practices and are dedicated to the safety and well-being of our staff and students while respecting individuals and individual choices,” stated first-year URGSD Superintendent Aaron Horrocks.

Horrocks was the Del Norte High School principal last year and was named district superintendent toward the end of the 2020-2021 school year, replacing Chris Burr, who announced in the spring he was stepping down and leaving the district at the end of the school year.

Horrocks said that the new Delta variant of COVID-19 has raised some questions for the coming school year that will be addressed in the opening plan.

“We are working closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and have been attending state-wide listening sessions to determine how our opening plan will look. Though there are a lot of details to be filled in, we do have a draft plan that will be approved in the next week,” he said.

Last year, like several schools throughout the Valley, URGSD bounced back and forth between in-person and online learning. The district only had to shut down once just before Christmas break out an abundance of caution when a staff member tested positive for the virus.

Horrocks also said the district will not be mandating vaccination for students at this time.

“The vaccine is available and comes with benefits such as less or no quarantine time, but we feel as a district that this is a family decision," he said. "It should be up to the family to vaccinate their students if they deem it appropriate. The family needs to make that decision on their own.”

Horrocks said that fall sports are on the docket to start on time.

“We are happy to say that all fall sporting events are set to begin on schedule. Everything from football to golf will be open for students who wish to participate,” he said.

Horrocks stated there is a draft opening plan in place and once it is approved by the board, it will be released to the public. School is scheduled to begin in mid-August. 

“We are being diligent, cautious, and above all, optimistic that this year is going to be very different than 2020. Unless something catastrophic happens, we anticipate a normal school year for students returning to the district,” Horrocks said.

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