Aspen School District turns to ‘crowdsourcing’ in latest step toward reopening

The Aspen School District continues to work toward a reopening plan.
Aspen Times file photo

More steps toward reopening were taken by the Aspen School District on Wednesday when more than 50 people met virtually as part of a task force led by new superintendent David Baugh.

The task force, which was divided into multiple small groups, spent roughly two hours going over concerns and ideas to possibly get kids back in the classroom, a place they haven’t been since mid-spring when the coronavirus pandemic forced learning to take place online only.

“We had over 50 folks helping us crowd source the biggest concerns and recommendations,” Baugh said. He preferred the term “crowdsourcing” to anything when describing the task force. “I thought we were going to have a lot more glitches than we did. It went rather well.”

The group was made of everything from school administrators and teachers, to parents and doctors. General health and worries about COVID-19 remained front and center in the discussions.

“Obviously the biggest concerns are safety of kids and staff. It was a good opportunity for people to express their anxiety around reopening,” Baugh said. “People realize there are a lot of questions about it. I think we are just getting some guidelines and guidance from the state now, so that’s good. But in the overall scheme of things, this was the first really foundational work.”

The first day of school for ASD students remains scheduled for Aug. 26, and the hope is to open as close to that date as possible in as normal a manner as possible. However, a lot remains to be answered before that becomes reality.

Baugh said the crowdsourcing group is likely to meet again at some point in the coming weeks. The next regular Board of Education meeting is set for Aug. 3, and Baugh intends to have a plan in place to present them, although he’ll make most of the final decisions when it comes to reopening.

“It was a first step and it was a big step,” Baugh said of Wednesday’s virtual crowdsourcing effort. “We will probably ask the board to approve (the plan), and subject to new information. Which means if Pitkin County closes again, there is a good chance we won’t open. A lot depends on what is happening medically in our community for us as to whether we are going to open.”

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