Going Forward Fall 2020

Our approach to learning under any circumstances will be directed by Bixby’s mission – it reflects a focus on individualization, creativity and relationships. Our commitment to “…empower children with critical thinking skills, self-confidence, independence and a love of learning; to develop their individual gifts; and prepare them to make meaningful contributions to the world” is unchanged.

While some things will by necessity be different, we are a strong and dedicated community and we will adjust.  We care deeply about each of you.

COVID-19 Policies


2020-21 School Plan: Joyful Learning FAQ’s

Statement From Jeff Zayach, BCPH Executive Director on In-Person Learning: “At this time Boulder County Public Health continues to support in person learning for Pre-K through 12th grade, to the extent it’s possible for schools to implement. The importance of in-person learning has been well-documented and we understand that there have already been major impacts on students because of the school closures in the spring. We have worked in close partnership with our education partners throughout the entirety of this pandemic and have had the opportunity to review reopening plans and build out systems and strategies to support in person learning while reducing risk. We know that all of our educational institutions, both private and public, have had to make unimaginably difficult decisions as they weigh how to best serve students, staff and families. Both St. Vrain and Boulder Valley School Districts worked really hard to offer in person learning but are not able to in major part because of the disruption that would be caused in schools due to the outbreak requirements from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. While at this time it is not possible for our larger school districts in Boulder County to offer in person learning, we understand that many of our smaller institutions will be able to offer this to students and should. We make this statement at this time knowing that there is no way to guarantee zero risk, we will continue to monitor data and share new research related to disease spread in children and will adjust our recommendations as necessary.”

August 5, 2020 – As you have likely heard already, St Vrain Valley and Boulder Valley School districts announced yesterday that they are opening in Phase 1+, fully remote, this fall. I have received several emails asking if Bixby will also do the same, and wanted to share the same information with everyone. Read more.

Our priority for the year is to deliver outstanding experiences for children to learn and grow, in person 5 days a week, with the option to participate remotely. We miss you and are excited about being back together again.

Pursuit of this goal requires us to implement a number of new health and safety protocols, as well as changes to our teaching and learning practices. In order to provide our teachers with time to prepare for a great year, we have decided to make the following important changes to our school year calendar: .

The first day of school will be delayed as follows:

  • Tuesday, September 1 for Preschool, 5th grade and 4th grade
  • Wednesday, September 2 for 2nd and 3rd grades
  • Thursday September 3 for Kindergarten and 1st grade

To compensate for this lost time at the beginning of the year, the last day of the school year will be June 4 for Kindergarten through 5th grade; and June 11 for Preschool.

A copy of the updated calendar for the 2020-21 school year is available here.

This plan reflects thousands of hours of work, including careful review of available information and discussion with a wide variety of partners – from families, teachers, public health officials and schools across the country and internationally.

Please read through the plan in its entirety. Although we have tried to anticipate your questions there will no doubt be situations or circumstances we may not have addressed. In addition, certain parts of the plan may be unclear. Please let us know what your questions are so that we can build a shared body of understanding.

Social and Emotional Safety Measures: The vision of Bixby School is “to be a recognized leader in progressive, whole-child, customized education.”  This focus on the whole child recognizes that the emotional and mental health of our children is not a “nice to have” but rather a necessary foundation for academic learning and life.  As we prepare to welcome our students back to school, a concerted, intentional focus upon social emotional health and well being is critical. In the 2020-21 school year, we will bolster our social-emotional learning curriculum to organize Bixby’s existing practices into a more explicit framework.   Led by Jess Howard, our Gifted and Learning Specialist, and Emily Armiak, Director of Early Childhood, this curriculum will deepen rather than replace our existing social and emotional learning practices that support children as they build self and social awareness; developing skills to care for themselves and nurture healthy relationships.

Physical Health and Safety Measures:  We are also using this summer to make some important changes designed to mitigate the risk of spreading disease within our building. These recent publications from Metro Denver Health Partners and The Children’s Hospital Colorado inform much of our planning.  Some of these changes are a direct response to the coronavirus, but many are simply good practice.

  • As we are doing already in our summer camp, when we return to school in August, all members of our community will be required to follow enhanced safety practices identified by public health officials to help keep us all safe

  • We will all participate in training sessions to become comfortable using required safety practices

  • We will live out our core belief that ” Children learn best in a safe environment:  physically, emotionally, and intellectually” by adopting practices and attitudes that allow us to protect our students, teachers, families, neighbors and ourselves as we return to school

  • Physical distancing measures will be in place

  • Adults will use face coverings at all times; children will use them when it is not feasible to maintain adequate physical distance, in accordance with guidance from our partners in public health

  • We will expand our daily cleaning and disinfecting procedures

  • We are investing over $10,000 in enhancements to our facilities designed to limit the use of high-touch surfaces and support physical distancing between student cohorts; these investments include installing touch-less faucets in all of our bathrooms, adding hand washing stations, replacing water fountains with bottle filling stations, installing roofs over outdoor areas so they can be used as classrooms, replacing shared work spaces with individual student seating, improving air quality and more

Here is what we know now: While a lot remains unknown, there is a lot that we do know.  Based on survey data, we know what is important to Bixby families.   We are in regular communication with local public health officials and work closely with them to ensure that we both understand what health and safety recommendations are, as well as review with them our plans to ensure they align with best practices in public health. We are gaining valuable experience in practicing social distancing with children at school during our summer program.

  • Bixby Summer Camp started on June 1.  We have intentionally started with a small cohort of campers to allow us to implement new health and safety procedures with a high degree of confidence. Camp is giving us a ton of great experience and information about a host of operational issues that we will need to address before we welcome students back in August. Here is some of what we have learned from our summer camp experience thus far:

    • In case you missed it, here is a slideshow from our first week of Summer Camp
    • Social distancing does not preclude joy and fun. Being with peers is powerful and important for kids; they are excited to be back and social distancing measures do not interfere with that excitement

    • Wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and maintaining social distance are feasible

    • Wearing masks and staying 6’ away from each other 100% of the time is unrealistic

    • Our beautiful and expansive campus provides us with so many opportunities to be outside often, have fun and maintain social distance more easily

  • State and local health officials continue to provide us frequent updates and guidance. Here is some of the most important guidance we have received recently that informs our planning:

    • Maintaining stable groups of kids is the most important health and safety measure

    • According to the Colorado Department of Education, “…all of [the health and safety] guidelines may not be met with 100% consistency at all times.  [CDE]  encourage[s] schools and districts to follow these guidelines to the best of their abilities and whenever feasible. “

    • As of June 15, there has been only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in a childcare center in Boulder

    • Current epidemiological models project that another spike in infection rates may happen in August

    • Boulder County currently has the capacity to test anyone who exhibits symptoms or may have been in contact with an infected person, a key step to reducing the spread of COVID-19

As a reminder, here is what we are asking of Bixby families and faculty/staff:

  • Should your plans for the fall change, please notify us promptly.  Our team is currently analyzing scenarios with each of our students in mind. Having firm enrollment numbers is a critical part of our ability to plan a personalized experience for each Bixby student.

  • Remain flexible. The unprecedented nature of this situation means that no one can fully predict what will happen.  The past few months have taught us a lot and have shown that at Bixby we can learn, grow and adjust.