Community Schools: Supporting our Families

Community Schools stdt

Whether students have been engaged through online, hybrid, or in-person learning, St. Vrain’s Community Schools program continues their commitment to support students and their families during these challenging times. Because of this deep seeded commitment, programs have remained open throughout this school year.

On August 18, 2020, Community Schools reopened their doors, offering full day school age childcare at all of the district’s 27 elementary schools and six Pre-K care programs. At the same time, they reduced the daily rates and opened scholarships for families in need. Through these efforts, Community Schools saw an influx of over 900 students that day.

Additionally, a major challenge that Community Schools has overcome is the statewide guidelines on limiting outside visitors into schools. “We shifted our check in and check out locations to the outside of the building,” said Susan Zimmerman, Community Schools Coordinator. “While families are greeted outside, students are monitored by doing a daily health screening, a temperature check before they are able to sign in and throughout the day.” Measures have been taken to reduce group sizes to ensure proper social distancing and cohorting. This year the program also introduced additional specialized health related training modules. Adapting to a rapidly changing environment has made Community Schools even more nimble and has asked for even greater effort from all employees.

Although programs look different this year, the staff continues to be committed in helping students and their families feel some sort of normalcy throughout their school day. “The kids have been resilient – we had a great first semester of learning and growing in our ever changing environment,” said Sheryl Miller, Community Schools Program Manager at Eagle Crest Elementary.

Students receive new learning opportunities while attending the program, and the staff is always looking for ways to ensure students receive the necessary help they need, either by answering school work questions, providing one-on-one help, or by providing students a place to connect with their friends. “This time is spent with students building important social skills, engaging in physical fitness and partaking in enriching activities, and helps with school attendance,” said David Zuniga, Community Schools Program Manager at Soaring Heights PK-8.

Currently there are over 1000 students enrolled in before-school and after-school care and that could not have happened without the commitment of all of the staff to be there for families and the trust families have in keeping their students safe. “Being open for our families has made me feel like I’m doing something positive in a time where negativity is easy to come by,” said Elizabeth Hanscome, Community Schools Program Manager at Fall River. “I am so happy and grateful to feel like I’m part of the solution – this year has shown me more than ever that we are not “just” childcare, we’re so much more, it has truly filled me with purpose and pride in serving our families, and I know I’m making a difference, even if it’s small.”