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El Paso County Colorado District 49

A different school choice

School is looking different this fall with COVID-19 regulations still in place. Online, hybrid classes, masks and social distancing are just a few of the requirements school districts are putting into place to keep in compliance with state regulations.As this article goes to press, some school districts are starting out online and going to hybrid mid-September.Some parents have decided to homeschool their children this year, while others are choosing online options; still, others are opting for in-person classes.Cara Lord-Geiser, The New Falcon Heraldís photographer, decided to enroll her fifth-grade daughter in Peytonís Online Virtual Academy, rather than attend regular school. ìI would have also liked for my twins to participate in Peytonís Online Academy as this year they extended the program to include kindergarten through 12th grade, but they didnít make the cutoff date,î Lord-Geiser said. ìI feel like the schools donít have enough experience with this virus yet, and whatís going to happen when the first person gets sick? I donít want my kids to have to change things up all year long. So for now, I committed my older daughter to the first semester (online).î She said it will depend on how the school handles things and how much socialization her daughter needs as time goes on. Her three youngest will participate in a Montessori homeschool program. On the other hand, Cindy Halsey, whose son is a junior at Falcon High School, said, ìHomeschooling would not work for either of us. He needs input from other people and I need to keep my sanity,î Halsey said. ìHe really wants to get back to school in person; he finds it very hard to get motivated just looking at a screen all day.îSheryl Salter said her son, a sophomore at Falcon High School, likes e-learning, at least for the time being. She said he is concerned about catching the virus, and he likes being on his computer. ìNormally, I would have issues with that, but he is not your average kid,î Salter said. He is easily distracted and very fidgety as he has ADHD. So being at home where it is quiet, where we can keep distractions to a minimum and where he can get up and get a snack or change positions is actually helpful for him. Of course, on the flip side, we really have to stay on top of things and make sure he is actually doing the work.î Courtney Gatti, course facilitator for the Peyton Online Academy, said their enrollment numbers have significantly increased. COVID regulations could have prompted the increase, but they also opened up enrollment to kindergarten through sixth-grade this year; they usually only enroll fifth-and-sixth-graders. She said the 2019-2020 school year started with seven enrollments, and this school year projections indicate they will begin the year with about 40 students. Gatti said, ìWe are thankful that we can offer this opportunity for our families who are not quite ready to send their students back to the brick and mortar classroom.î

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