Updates from the Superintendent

May 6, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope that everyone is having a great week.

I communicated last week that I would be following up with more information about Graduation and the last week of school drop-off/pick-up processes.

Graduation…area superintendents have been working to collaborate with the El Paso County Public Health Department to submit a variance for alternative graduations that expand the number of student participants. As a school district, we have been collaborating to develop plans that are responsible while also considering being responsive to prior Manitou Springs School District 14 traditions.

Yesterday, there was a presentation to the County Commissioners by the El Paso County Public Health Department (EPCPHD) and representation from Pikes Peak Region’s Superintendents to approve a variance that would allow student-only graduations. This variance was approved by the El Paso County Commissioners and now needs to be approved by the State.

Yesterday (following the meeting with the County Commissioners), I submitted, on behalf of MSSD14, two plans for approval. One plan allows for staggered graduation with 5 cars on campus at a time. The second plan allows for in-person graduation for graduating students only. These plans both still need to be approved by El Paso County Public Health Department. These plans are consistent with guidelines specified by EPCPHD. Those guidelines are posted at the end of this letter.

We are still planning to hold graduation on Sunday, May 17, 2020 (pending approval, times TBD). If we do not receive approval by close of business on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, graduation will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2020 (pending approval). More information will be provided as soon as I receive approval from EPCPHD. We know this makes planning difficult, but we are trying to honor the original date.

Both alternative graduation plans will be live-streamed. More details will be provided.

Regardless of the ceremony that occurs in May, we will honor the Class of 2020 at a future event when we are able to participate in gatherings that allow for more individuals. For example, the 2020 Homecoming Parade might be an option for 2020 graduates. This will be dependent on the circumstances at the time.

Parents of Seniors are planning some amazing ways to celebrate our graduating Seniors. You can reach out to the Senior Parent Committee ([email protected]) to learn about how to engage and get involved in these opportunities. Here is another way to learn about their plans for Seniors:

Last week of school drop-off/pick-up…

Please see the drop-off/pick-up times for each grade level for each school. You will be receiving more information about the specific times for your child’s school drop-off/pick-up from the principal. This communication will also include maps and the items that need to be dropped off and items that will be distributed. For parents with multiple children at the same school, you can bring everything for all children during one drop-off session.


Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.


Elizabeth A. Domangue, PhD
Superintendent of Schools

El Paso County Public Health Department Alternative Graduation Guidelines
Written plans submitted by a school district or school must address the following guidelines:

• Ceremonies should be held in a staggered manner as late into the spring or summer as possible to allow for the evaluation of current loosening of social distancing policies.
• Written plans must include a fully virtual option in the event incoming data contraindicates hosting in-person ceremonies.
• Ceremonies must be held outside with weather contingency plans of transition to virtual-only or tents. Indoor ceremonies are prohibited.
• Ceremonies must be STUDENT ONLY with minimal staff required to manage students and flow of ceremonies.
• All students and staff must meet six-foot social distancing at all times, including when entering and exiting the ceremony.
• If outside facilities cannot accommodate the six-foot distancing, ceremonies must be held in the number of shifts necessary to allow for such distancing.
• No parents, guests, or observers are allowed on-site. Ceremonies may be broadcast electronically for all viewers.
• No associated social gatherings of students or staff are permitted at ceremony facilities prior to or following the ceremony.
• All students and staff must wear cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth at all times, with the exception of individual photographs by an official photographer while social distancing from others.
• A no-touch or no-contact procedure for receipt of the diploma must be implemented, such as presentation on a table by staff to be picked up by the student.
• A permission slip or behavior contract must be signed by students and parents concerning risk mitigation. It must include a health screening survey that is completed the day of the ceremony and prior to entry, to include questions about fever, cough, congestion, chills, or other symptoms exhibited by the student or others in the household in the previous 14 days, with any positive answers resulting in exclusion of the student from participation in the ceremony.
• Proposals to address students with special needs or who may require assistance must be included.
• An inclusionary plan must be developed for families or students not wishing or not able to participate in person.

April 17, 2020
Dear Manitou Springs School District Community,

I hope that you and your family are doing well.

It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up week 4 of Remote Learning.

Prior to moving to Colorado (in 2010), I lived, studied, and taught in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As you may well-remember, Hurricane Katrina devastated South Louisiana in 2005. It was a strange time. Through the strange time, a wave of emotions was felt by everyone—energy, uncertainty, connection, pause, loss, and so many other emotions. During this time, I can’t help but think back to those memories. COVID-19 has presented a different set of circumstances, but the range of emotions is not different.

Every day, our school and district leadership teams are meeting together and collaborating with staff to ensure that we are making the decisions that are thoughtful, informed, intentional, grounded, and timely.

Here are a few updates:

• Principal Markus Moeder-Chandler will be sending a communication later today to families of Seniors.
• I will be sending a follow-up email early next week to all families and staff.
• Final feedback and grading practices will be shared with parents on Tuesday, April 21.
• Remote Teaching and Learning will continue as strong as it has been from the start.
• Advanced Placement Exams (delivered by College Board) will be administered through an online platform. You can reach out to Kolleen Johnson ([email protected]) if you have any questions about the process (including ensuring adequate technology access).
• I invite you to join us for our first Virtual Board of Education meeting on Monday, April 20.

More information can be found here. If you would like to
watch the Live Stream, you can access via this link: https://stream.meet.google.com/stream/10afd54d-67e0-490e-8394-a5583cc2ffb9

You can continue to access resources and updates through our Remote Learning link:

Here are some recent highlights. These five links do not begin to capture the amazing remote learning, teaching, and connecting experiences that are happening every day across all schools.

https://youtu.be/Y8yZxqT5Ii8 (Manitou is the first stadium on the video.)

My words of gratitude and admiration will never adequately capture my thoughts
and feelings about how our community (students, staff, families, BOE, and more) has responded to this situation and current reality.

The Grab-and-Go Lunch/Breakfast will continue (Monday-Friday; 11:00-12:00 at UPES and MSHS). These meals are free to all families with children 18 and younger.

Let us know if you need anything or if you have any questions.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.


Elizabeth A. Domangue, PhD
Superintendent of Schools

April 1, 2020

Dear Manitou Springs School District Community,

Recently, Governor Polis announced the continued suspension of in-person learning across the state of Colorado. Manitou Springs School District's schools will remain closed through April 30, 2020.

Our district will continue with our Remote Learning plans and pathways for all students. If your child is having trouble accessing any content, please reach out directly to the school. We want to support every child’s ability to connect, learn, and engage.

I want to reiterate a message from a previous email. We have no plans right now to cancel or postpone Graduation. We will be considering lots of different options and scenarios before any decision is made.

Please know that we will continue to work closely with the Governor and other agencies as we follow the recommendations of state and regional health professionals. As we learn more, we will continue to provide updates and other important information.

We appreciate all that everyone is doing to support our students, families, staff, and the community. This is not easy, but we will definitely be Stronger Together.


Elizabeth A. Domangue, PhD
Superintendent of Schools

Additional Information:

Remote Learning Resources available here: https://www.mssd14.org/remote_learning and https://www.mssd14.org/STAFF/remote_learning

The Grab-and-Go Breakfast and Lunch Meal Program will continue until further notice.

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.

 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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