COVID-19 Strategies for TSD - September 10, 2020
COVID-19 Strategies for TSD - August 14, 2020
Spanish COVID-19 Strategies for TSD July 9, 2020

September 26, 2020 (versión en español)

Dear Telluride School District Families,

I would like to acknowledge that we have reached a milestone in our school year. While our students in grades Pk-5 have had five weeks of full in-person education, many of our students in grades 8, 10, and 11 have just completed their first week of hybrid education. We are now fully in the yellow learning phase of school operation. We have accomplished this, to date, without a known positive case among students or staff. I know many people have asked and wondered why, given the metric results of the past weeks, we have not moved into the green learning phase with full in-person instruction at TMHS. There are multiple reasons for this. One is that we decided to move slowly and deliberately through phases and have just finished transitioning into the yellow learning phase. This has allowed us to sort through many unpredicted logistical issues that have come up at a smaller scale, and thus avoid bigger problems. More importantly, the combination of physical classroom sizes and class roster numbers in grades 7-12 does not allow for full in-person classes while maintaining six foot physical-distancing between students in many of our classes. This is one issue, among others, that our COVID Task Force is looking at.

The problem described above related to moving grades 7-12 to full in-person instruction is one of many we face. As we move forward, more and more issues come up. I will mention a few of those below that are on the immediate horizon. Please understand that with so many parts moving so quickly, the communication and decision-making process becomes strained. We are trying to keep all stakeholders (board, administration, staff, families, students, community…) in the loop. Please reach out to me or an administrator if you hear something from elsewhere and want to check its accuracy, as often the message gets confused when things move quickly. Here are some of the issues and decisions we are facing in the near future:

• When and how do we transition from using the outside tents for lunch to eating lunch inside; we expect this will need to happen over the next 3-4 weeks at the most.
• Whether we are able to safely hold a Halloween parade; do we need to consider not doing that this year.
• How will we be able to run Ski PE this year, given the many logistical challenges this year presents on top of the normal logistical challenges; what modifications would need to be made, and do we have the ability to make Ski PE happen in any way like a normal year. Below are some of the challenges we’ve identified:
o Telski will need to limit their group size for lessons, so they are thinking they will not be able to have as many Ski PE students as in a normal year. This might bring the number of students who can participate in Ski PE from mid-400s down to 300 or even less.
o Telski cannot accommodate lunch for our students, as they cannot allow groups into the eating spaces. Based on this, we cannot (easily at least) do full days for TES and TIS, and would need to switch to two half-days for these schools rather than one full-day. This increases the challenges of transportation/equipment/etc.
o Because Telski cannot allow groups into the eating spaces, we cannot have students go inside for breaks to warm up, have hot chocolate, etc. This would certainly favor afternoons over mornings.
o Telski does not yet know what the limitations on gondola/lifts will be in January/February, but a group-size limit on gondola will be problematic.
o The Telski instructors will be exposed to people from outside our community and all over, and then be in direct contact with our students.
o In our schools we are being very careful about keeping our cohorts of children from mixing. In their Ski PE groups, cohorts would almost certainly need to be mixed.
o Even if Telski could accommodate all students interested, implementing activities for the remaining students without mixing cohorts and exposing instructors (yoga, art, etc.) would be challenging. If the number of students for those alternate activities is increased significantly due to Telski’s capacity, this becomes more of a challenge.
o Transporting students from TES and TIS lower grades is much more challenging with bus capacity limitations. Moving to two half-days doubles the challenge. Transporting straight to the mountain would get students there too early unless we adjusted our school day for those days/weeks, which causes other scheduling complications.
• Should we consider pre-emptively moving to 100% remote instruction for any period of time between Thanksgiving and January (see below for some options the COVID Task Force will discuss). Here are some of the factors/questions/perspectives in that discussion:
o Will this increase our chance of maximizing in-person instruction over the full school year?
o If we continue to operate safely as we have, shouldn’t we stay the course with in-person instruction?
o We will have some influx of college students and others, plus staff and students who have traveled, potentially bringing the virus into our community and schools. A pre-emptive remote period would allow for a quarantine period before bringing that many people back into our schools.
o This is typically a time of high COVID-like symptoms due to cold/strep/flu season, so the number of students and staff out might challenge our ability to operate anyway. Planning for 100% remote has some advantages over being forced into it.
o Our current travel quarantine protocols would exacerbate the issue of students and staff out following the holiday breaks, even if they are not symptomatic.

We will hold a District Accountability meeting this Monday, September 28 at 5:15pm. The Zoom link for the meeting is (Meeting ID: 865 2614 2312 Passcode: 304152). The agenda includes the following items:

1) Consideration of 100% remote learning in parts of December and/or January, as discussed by the COVID Task Force (see below)
2) Discussion on challenges of Ski PE for this school year
3) Other updates from the Superintendent
The TSD COVID Task Force meets again this Tuesday. The Task Force identified the following decisions that need to be addressed moving forward, realizing additional decisions will come up as well:

1. Consideration of Intentional 100% Remote Learning around the holidays:
a. Option 1: Do not make any intentional decision to move to 100% Remote Learning
b. Option 2: Make an intentional decision to move to 100% Remote Learning for one full week after Thanksgiving (Nov 30 – Dec 4) and one full week after New Year’s (Jan 4-8)
c. Option 3: Make an intentional decision to move to 100% Remote Learning from Thanksgiving through January 8, returning to in-person instruction on January 11
2. Consideration of Modifying or Eliminating the Travel Quarantine Requirement:
a. Option 1: Keep the quarantine protocol as is
b. Option 2: Keep the protocol in place as a communication statement, but loosen the requirement on quarantining after plane travel
c. Option 3: Eliminate the protocol
3. Consideration of changing the 6-foot distance protocol for TMHS:
a. Option 1: Keep the 6-foot protocol in place, which would mean TMHS would never go full in-person while this protocol is in place
b. Option 2: Reduce the minimum distance required, which would allow for TMHS in-person instruction
4. Consideration of modifying the Matrix based on what we have learned since it was first created

San Miguel County’s 14-day Positivity Rate is now at 0.8%, and the 14-day Incidence Rate is now at 24.5 per 100,000 people. The CO state Ro is at 1.13. To see our matrix, go to:
To see the Positivity Rate and Incidence Rate on the newly revised Sam Miguel County Dashboard, go to:
To See Ro, go to:

Please see the chart below for a summary of our TSD staff COVID testing:

Testing Round

#of test results reported

# of positive results

Baseline (8/19-8/20)



Round 1 (8/31-9/11)



Round 2 (9/14-9/25)

146 in (still waiting on 3)


The TIS Interim Principal Interview Committee met last Wednesday to review applications, and we plan to interview four candidates this Wednesday. Hilary Swenson and Allison Templin are the Accountability Parent members of that committee.

The help of our volunteers continues to be appreciated. Those of you that are volunteering see first hand how great it is to have our students in school, as well as the incredible logistical complexities we face on a daily basis. Without our volunteers we could not run our schools safely, so thank you again!

Please remember, as we continue to move forward, that we are in this together as a community. I recognize that there are many different perspectives and opinions on the many decisions we are faced with. There is no absolute right or wrong answer to any of these decisions. There is no other school district that has it all figured out that we can look to for easy answers. There is no clear and consistent direction and guidance from our federal or state government. Everyone is doing their best with limited knowledge and experience of how to operate a country, state, community, and school district in the uncertainty of a pandemic. We strive to provide consistency, and realize that our actions to address the many moving pieces and new challenges may appear inconsistent. This is the unfortunate reality of living in these times. I will close by saying what I have said many times in the past three months; we appreciate you continued patience and support as we navigate these waters together.


John Pandolfo

Previous Messages
September 19, 2020 (versión en español)
September 11, 2020 English (versión en español)
September 3, 2020 English (versión en español)
August 27, 2020 English (versión en español)
August 21, 2020 English (versión en español)
August 14, 2020 English (versión en español)
August 11, 2020 English  (versión en español)
August 5, 2020 English (versión en español) 
July 31, 2020 English (versión en español)
July 24, 2020 English (versión en español)

July 17, 2020 English (versión en español)
July 9, 2020  English (versión en español)

July 2, 2020  English (versión en español)


John Pandolfo, Superintendent 

Telluride School District Mission Statement
"Through quality education, our students will achieve personal success." 
As a result of our efforts, students will...

  • Master rigorous academic standards required to meet the challenges of their future.
  • Direct and own their learning through the use of effective tools and processes.
  • Interact globally and contribute locally to improve the human condition and environment.
  • Be ethical and healthy individuals.
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