Welcome to 2021! There are many sentiments that capture the challenges of this past year and the hurdles we still need to overcome. However, many would agree that “the only constant is change” epitomizes what we can expect in 2021. In fact, the first couple weeks of 2021 have proven that stability will remain elusive for the time being.

That said, know that as you work to provide the necessary supports for your communities, CSI is here to offer supports to you, from thought partnership to access to resources.

Supporting Our Communities

The events that took place at the U.S. Capitol last week have elicited a diversity of reactions and emotions. While we as leaders may still be processing the events, having the space and safety to discuss these events can be helpful. Along with other mental health resources, we have compiled some tools for talking to kids about traumatic events on our Mental Health Resources webpage. It is hard to predict what the next few weeks will bring as our country struggles with discord and unrest, but I hope our children will not have to bear witness to unnecessary violence.

Amidst the recent events facing our nation, our children and communities continue to be impacted by the coronavirus. Still, CSI schools have persevered and faced the challenges head on. Throughout the first half of the school year, many CSI schools worked extremely hard to provide in-person learning as others worked to ensure a strong online learning environment for students when in-person learning was not an option.

Everyone at CSI recognizes that there are many factors to consider and manage for remote, hybrid, and in-person learning. We also know that CSI school leaders are doing their best as they try to adapt and adjust to the ever-changing local health guidelines, staff needs, student concerns, and parent input.

As we enter the second half of the school year and educators continue to adapt to the constant changes, CSI will remain steady in our support. We understand questions about state assessments and student retention are topics of discussion and will continue to share the latest resources and guidance in these areas. Finding substitute teachers is one of the most difficult challenges that schools have been grappling with during the pandemic. Given that, CDE recently released a toolkit for recruiting substitute teachers.

CSI Schools Continue to Meet the Needs of Their Communities

A bit of good news was shared in December as the state released preliminary October Count data. While as a whole, Colorado public schools saw a 3.3% enrollment decrease, the CSI portfolio of schools saw an increase in enrollment. This was in part a result of CSI schools responding to the needs of their communities by expanding program offerings, including homeschool enrichment. Our charter school leaders worked hard to respond to the needs of their communities, and it showed.

Last month CSI wrapped up the 2020 renewal process, which was adjusted due to COVID-19 and the suspension of state assessments. CSI staff and board members participated in virtual site visits which were a great way to speak directly to teachers and students.

The CSI Board also approved two new schools that will be opening next year, PSAS e-Learning Academy and Prospect Academy—two school options seeking to offer a unique model to their communities.

Continued Advocacy for Our Students

Finally, the new calendar year brings the beginning of the 2021 Legislative Session. The CSI advocacy agenda will continue to focus on funding equity, autonomy, and accountability. We look forward to working alongside our schools and education reform partners in advocating for our students.  

While 2021 brings more uncertainty and unrest, it also brings hope and, most likely many positive changes, including the potential of seeing friends and colleagues in person. 2020 certainly made all of us re-examine our priorities, and the first couple weeks of 2021 have proven to be a continuation of the health crisis and political discord, but I will remain hopeful for our students. We must approach these struggles with a belief that we have the strength and determination to find a way to recover and thrive. Our country has endured many painful and turbulent times and yet we have triumphed. We will do it again!

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