Walt Cooper mug, District 12 superintendent, cheyenne edition


One of the hallmarks of the Cheyenne Mountain School District community is the level of support that has been exhibited by D-12 residents for decades.

Clearly, we are fortunate to have extremely supportive and engaged parents, but our community-based support extends far beyond just those who currently have kids in school. Patrons whose children have long since exited the system, newcomers to our neighborhoods that don’t have school-aged children, local business owners or operators who may live elsewhere but work in D-12, have all been historically supportive and engaged in helping District 12 become one of the premier school districts in Colorado.

We have seen this support manifest in many ways over the years. We’ve seen it when we’ve proposed local tax or bond elections. We see it in the audiences of school activities, performances, and contests. We’ve never suffered a lack of volunteers or citizen engagement in district or school committees or work groups. And last spring, all one needed to do was drive down any neighborhood street to see signs expressing support for students, teachers, frontline workers, and more. But now, perhaps unlike any time in the past, we need this same level of D-12 community support in our fight to keep kids in school while we manage COVID-19.

While support for school district elections or student activities may seem commonplace, it may seem equally curious that we would advocate for broad community support of our schools’ response to a pandemic. The reason, however, is really quite simple. Global studies continue to show that transmission of COVID-19 within schools remains minimal. The vast majority of COVID-19 transmission that has caused numerous quarantines and closures that have significantly disrupted our kids’ learning have occurred though community gatherings, household contacts, and other instances of inadequate distancing and mask use.

The correlation is very simple ... the more COVID-19 disease and spread in our communities, the more COVID-19 impacts the inside of our schools. So, even though you, like I, might not have a child in one of our schools, each of us can still have a significant impact on their educational experience in the weeks and months ahead based on our daily community behavior.

We can never ensure a zero risk when our students return to school, but how we as adults interact with others in our community and participate in community activities will absolutely help our students return to, and more importantly stay, in school. We’ve made tremendous strides in the last weeks: numbers of cases are dropping, positivity rates are down, and hospitalizations have not dramatically increased. But, we still have challenges ahead of us and, yes, everyone of us can play a role in overcoming these challenges.

Understandably, we all feel the strain of capacity restrictions, mask mandates, constant distancing, and the many other interventions we’ve had to endure. But perhaps thinking about these interventions in a slightly different light ... thinking about them as just one more example of community support of our D-12 students and teachers might make them a little more bearable.

Walt Cooper is the superintendent of schools in Cheyenne Mountain School District 12. He was selected as the Colorado Superintendent of the Year for 2018. Learn more about District 12 at cmsd12.org.

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