The Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB), a state-funded school within the Colorado Department of Education, was founded, in 1874. The school was established for the purpose of providing comprehensive educational services for children, birth to age 21, who are blind/visually impaired and/or deaf/hard of hearing. Services are provided directly to students enrolled at the school, and outreach programs serve students, staff, and families in communities throughout Colorado
Prior to March 2020
CSDB welcomed a new superintendent in 2019. The school began the strategic planning process for 2020-2025 and continued with traditional classroom academics as well as residential activities. Students were assigned a technology device (1:1) and used Canvas, an online Learning Management System. CSDB provided in-person learning for early education families and those enrolled in Community or Family ASL classes. Online courses, ASL instruction and Deaf Culture, resumed. CSDB connected with families and the community via email, Constant Contact, Infinite Campus as well as on the school website and daily postings on the social media accounts.
During March-June 2020
Early Education and Preschool through High School instruction changed to the Zoom platform and continued using Canvas. Open tutoring hours were scheduled for students to connect directly with teachers for support. Related service providers continued to provide Speech, OM, Social emotional support, OT/PT remotely via Zoom. Parents partnered with our related service providers, to support their children from home, and to receive coaching on working with their children at home.
Colorado Shared Reading Project (CSRP) weekly ‘Tea Chat’ (Parents) “During this hour, it has been a delight for us to learn from each other and to thrive.” “I am thankful that we make time to meet, to connect and to grow amid the pandemic.”
Community ASL teachers altered the traditional, in-person classes to on-line classes via Zoom.
• Our superintendent began a weekly video series for parents, staff, and the community.
• Facebook and Twitter postings tripled.
Initial postings – COVID-19 information, free learning websites, and Virtual Bulldog Fun theme days
Additional campaigns – interactions between academic/support staff with students, staff appreciation videos/testimonials, and Senior Spotlights, highlighting upcoming graduates
• CSDB began an Instagram page featuring the school, and a Facebook and Instagram page featuring CSDB Residential Program activities.
How the School Rose to the Challenge
The initial set up and arrangement of the instruction and services, created as-we-went-along, building schedules, providing materials and technology access was a challenge. Residential staff delivered assistive technology to student’s homes to ensure they had all of the tools they needed to be successful in remote learning. Many students and families struggled to learn how to access the on-line platforms from home. However, staff were able to jump in and help families to navigate successfully.
eLearning is particularly difficult for students who are D/HH as 2D interactions are very different than in-person; especially for those students learning language. Teachers worked diligently, providing supports to help students engage. Further, many students were extremely isolated during this time. The ASL Teacher/Coach and Bilingual Literacy Specialist/Coach, began a weekly virtual Bulldog Social Club with two groups: 3rd – 6th grade students and 7th-12th grade students, who are D/HH. The club was open to other Colorado kids who are D/HH, but who do not attend CSDB. Students were thrilled to chat and learn about each other through topics such as “Favorite subject in school”, “Which would you rather?”, and “Kahoot!”. Participants looked forward to each week’s club meeting, via Zoom.
Where the School is Now
Seniors graduated, with an in-person ceremony, May 29 and the last day of instruction for students was June 5. Then, families returned devices and materials while staff cleaned out classrooms and attended professional development. CSDB staff continue to develop the new mission and vision statements as well as guiding beliefs, as a part of the strategic planning process. Staff have begun fall planning, gathering feedback relative to what worked well, and how remote learning could be improved, if needed, in the future. CSDB will utilize this feedback as we develop a plan for re-opening in-person learning, Fall 2020.
CSDB is currently working on a plan that includes three phases of opening for instruction, Fall 2020. This includes remote learning, blended learning (some remote and some in-person), and in-person learning. There is a lot of work being done to make certain we have processes and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our students. This includes cleaning/sanitizing kits in classrooms and offices, plexiglass on tables and desks, floor markings in the classrooms and hallways to show six feet of distancing, and a revised cafeteria schedule to reduce the number of people in the area.
Superintendent: Dr. Nancy E. Benham