Updates from the Superintendent

March 19, 2020

Dear Staff and Families of Manitou Springs School District,

Good afternoon!

I communicated yesterday that Governor Polis would be making a significant announcement related to school closures. Last night, our Governor signed an executive order suspending public schools across the state of Colorado. Schools will be closed through April 17, with students returning April 20.

While we know that we have started some great opportunities for Remote Learning, we know that our students and staff would much rather face-to-face teaching and learning experiences (including athletics, performing arts, Connect 14, clubs, and more). Attendance and participation has been exceptionally high, and we are continuing to evaluate how we can meet the needs of 100% of our students and families.

I know that I (and everyone else) miss seeing our students getting off the bus, walking from class to class, laughing, playing, and just being engaged in deep learning and meaningful contact with one another. We are making the best of this unexpected situation, and we will continue to do so.

Please know that our philosophy around Remote Learning continues to be grounded in our core values of Relationships, Deep Learning, and Opportunity.

The only update to the email that I sent yesterday connects to what Remote Learning will look like when our staff and students return from Spring Break (March 23-27). We really want our staff, students, and families to have a restful break. Many districts across the state have not been engaging in Remote Learning, but our community has with very short notice.

With that being said, here is the schedule for the next 5 weeks.


Principals will be reaching out to communicate to our staff the school-specific plans for the March 30 professional learning day, and they will also share the next steps with families.

You might be wondering why we have decided to dedicate each Monday as an opportunity for Professional Learning Communities, Professional Development, Staff Meetings, and Lesson Planning. We have a highly creative and collaborative staff. We value professional learning, so this schedule will allow our staff to develop professionally with this new platform, while also maintaining connections with colleagues and constantly considering how to support students. This decision aligns with our Core Values. It also aligns with our philosophy of Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child.

We will start to take attendance only for the purpose of making sure that we stay connected to all students and families. Please know that this will not be held against any student. We do not want this to add stress or anxiety. The intention is to support students if they are not having opportunities to connect with school staff. We are well aware, of course, that many family variables during Remote Learning impact both attendance and classwork. Attendance/absences will not be held against students, but rather will be a matter of the school charting daily engagement for purposes of staying connected to students and families. A student who participates in any part of activities in a day of Remote Learning will be counted as attending the full day. A student who does not participate in any activities in a day of Remote Learning will be marked in our system with a neutral designation, which will not be counted against the student’s record. Likewise, we want to make sure students learn well and complete their work, but we also understand the variations in each student’s home learning experience and focus. Therefore, your student’s teacher will communicate with you after the break how to share their work with the teacher, but we will also need to devise and communicate new ways to report on student learning at the end of the fourth quarter. More information will be shared after March 30.

The Grab-and-Go Breakfast and Lunch Meal Program will continue until we return to school on April 20. If your family is in need of additional support, please contact Jane Squires ([email protected]; 719-685-2004), Angela Gieck ([email protected]; 719-685-2004), your school’s counselor or social worker, or Melissa McElhaney ([email protected]; 719-685-2000). You can also call our District Front Office at 719-685-2024.

Staff will be communicating expectations for student engagement when students are using the different technology platforms to communicate (e.g., Google Hangout). We ask that parents and guardians monitor appropriate usage of technology. Google Hangout will be turned off during Spring Break.

We know that important events like Graduation are on the minds of everyone. We have no plans right now to cancel or postpone Graduation; however, we will be diligent and thoughtful along the way. I am confident that we can figure out some elegant and creative solutions during these times. We are Manitou! If there is a district that can come together in creative and thoughtful ways, it is Manitou—our community deserves nothing less.

On an aside, many of our local businesses are continuing to serve food and coffee to-go. If you have a moment to engage safely in social distancing, I hope to see you in town at one of our local coffee shops or other spots that are open to the community. We can say, “Hi” with a wave or a safe-distance conversation.

With deep care and gratitude,

Elizabeth A. Domangue

Superintendent of Schools
Elizabeth A. Domangue, PhD
Superintendent of Schools

March 18, 2020

Dear Staff and Families of Manitou Springs School District,

It was great to have the sun shining brightly today.

I am consistently inspired by our community’s response to this unexpected and impactful change to our day-to-day routines and norms. When I have chunks of information, I will send that information to our entire community (being consistent with staff and families). Then, principals will follow-up with school-specific next steps or unique information.

Here are the updates:

· Spring Break is just around the corner. There will be no Remote Learning opportunities during Spring Break. We are hoping that our staff and families truly have a break that is relaxing, fun, reflective, and connected.

· For Spring Break, all schools will be closed Monday, March 23-27. Our Buildings and Grounds Team has done an exceptional job deep cleaning all high-touch areas, so we want to maintain that level of cleanliness.

· Many families have taken advantage of our grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals that have been available to all students. We have decided to keep providing these grab-and-go meals until further notice (Monday-Friday) including Spring Break. The meals can be picked up from 11:00-12:00 at Manitou Springs High School and Ute Pass Elementary School. Please remember that any student can go to any pick-up location in the region. Here is the map for the Pikes Peak region: https://tinyurl.com/tbemqcc

· CHSAA has announced that the postponement of Spring Sports and Activities has been extended through April 18th. Spring coaches will communicate to parents and athletes through SportsYou.com.

· We have postponed all Connect 14 and other activities through April 18.

· We will not be administering the CMAS suite of assessments this school year.

· We will provide an update on when PSAT, SAT, and Advanced Placement exams will be administered.

· The Remote Learning websites for MSSD will continue to be updated. The website includes communications, mental health resources/opportunities, technical information for accessing learning platform, and more.

o Students/Families: https://www.mssd14.org/remote_learning

o Staff: https://www.mssd14.org/STAFF/remote_learning

Governor Polis will be making an announcement today or tomorrow that will include more direction for schools. I will provide an update following that announcement.

Thank you to everyone as we are navigating these uncharted waters. Along the way, I hope that everyone takes the necessary steps to stay healthy and well.


Elizabeth A. Domangue, PhD
Superintendent of Schools
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