by Conor Orr
LA VETA — On Monday, March 16, the RE-2 Board of Education met to discuss closing the school in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing food insecurity in the community while the school is closed, and they made a decision about what to put in the center of the football field.
In accordance with the Colorado Health Department’s recommendation, the board voted to close the school until April 6th. Since this is being treated as an extension of their spring break, teachers have not assigned any homework for the time being. School officials anticipate though there may be a need to move to online schooling after the 6th, so they are working now to make sure that all of their students will have access to internet and learning materials for as long as the need for social distancing lasts.
Each student has been assigned to a teacher who will be checking in over the break starting March 30, and if online schooling becomes necessary, the school will employ several different methods to keep the students engaged. Since not every student has access to reliable internet at home, the IT department is working to set up wifi access across campus so that parents and students can drive into the parking lot and download whatever materials are necessary from their cars.
There is also the potential to send laptops home with those students who would not otherwise have access to a computer at home. Instruction will resume on April 6, whether in-person or home-based. In the meantime, the school board encourages all students to read, spend plenty of time outside, and to spend some significant time each day away from their devices, since the news cycle at the moment can be particularly damaging to mental health. Some fresh air and sunlight will not stop you from getting the virus, but it will help to prevent the equally deadly and oft-unspoken disease of depression.
The regular check-ins from teachers and paraprofessionals are intended to help address mental health concerns as well as to make sure that students are engaged in the learning process.
There is a tremendous effort going on right now to address food insecurity while the schools are closed. For some students, the free or reduced lunch program is a critical source of nutrition and with schools closed for the foreseeable future, school boards everywhere are scrambling to make sure that they can keep feeding students in need. Luckily, the La Veta district is the beneficiary of an anonymous donor who has been supporting the program and will continue to provide funds for food to the school in these trying times. There will be food boxes available for drive-through pick up from 3-5pm on Thursday, March 19, and will be available weekly beginning April 1.
There are concerns about how the school’s hourly waged employees will be compensated during this time, but the board expects that they will continue to be paid, though much is still in the air. As of right now, the school board’s main ambition is to continue providing support and education for students and they endeavor to be fair and upfront with the community as the situation develops.
This meeting was another opportunity for the public to weigh in on the matter of the school’s branding, though significantly fewer people showed up to this meeting than the last. Only one citizen spoke on the issue of the mascot and was in favor of changing it, based on the broad literature surrounding the effects of racist mascots, which he implores the school board and community to seek out.
The board will not vote on the mascot anytime soon, but has considered public opinion on the matter to inform their decision about what to put in the center of the new football field. After some discussion, Director Neldner and a member of the audience brought up the fact that there doesn’t even need to be a logo in the center of the field at all. The current field doesn’t have one, and the turf can always be painted for Homecoming games. In fact, as the board quickly realized, not installing a logo into the field would increase its flexibility, since La Veta is currently only able to field a 6-man football team but intends to play 8-man and even 11-man football in the future. If the logo was permanent, then it would end up being off-center as the field’s uses change. Subsequently, the board did vote 4-1 to move forward with the building of the new field without a logo stitched into the center. Other elements of branding were discussed, standardized colors for example, as were several acronym-heavy policy matters.