School district leaders present a day in the life of a Summit County student

Summit High School graduate Jeremiah Vaille completes schoolwork at home during the coronavirus shutdown in March.
Courtesy Kendal Wright Vaille

KEYSTONE — While all Summit School District students will be returning to school in some form, the experience is going to vary for different age groups. 

On Friday, July 31, the Summit School District announced its finalized dates for the first day of school. The district’s final “return to learn” plan will be released in the coming days, according to a news release.

At a school board meeting Thursday, July 30, principals from all three school levels presented a draft day-in-the-life plan to get a sense of what in-person learning will look like during a pandemic.

In general, students will be placed in cohorts that will be “as small as possible,” and students will have to wear face masks while inside, Chief Operations Officer Drew Adkins said at the meeting.

At the beginning of each school day, all families will be expected to conduct a screening of their students for symptoms of the virus, according to the district’s “Day in the Life of a SSD Scholar” document

The district also has some requirements for students who are taking a bus to school. Those students will have to wear a mask while on the bus and sit by themselves.

Upper Blue Elementary School teacher Ashley Girodo, upper right, interacts virtually with students in her fifth-grade class during at-home schooling in March.
Courtesy Ashley Girodo

Elementary school students 

Grades 1-5

First through fifth grades will start Aug. 27 with in-person days on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The students will be online on Wednesdays.

At the meeting, Upper Blue Elementary Principal Robyn Sutherland said the elementary principals are working to have consistency across the district.

When students arrive at school, they will line up in their cohorts at different entrances throughout the building, according to the elementary presentation. Staff then will be sure to check that students have been screened before entering. Sutherland said the screening will be done by parents before school — in which case a parent will fill out a form indicating the screening has been done — or by a staff member as the students enter. 

Once the screenings are done, students will go to their classrooms, where breakfast will be delivered, and the teachers will have a morning meeting. Students then will have reading and writing, math, unit of inquiry and social-emotional learning classes, Sutherland said. 

Teachers of “specials” classes — like physical education, music and world language — will be teaching one cohort in person for two weeks at a time while the other cohorts have those classes virtually. 

Special education will be provided mostly virtually, but students who rely on those services will continue to have one-on-one meetings with a special education teacher or paraprofessional, Sutherland said. Mental health supports will be provided when the counsellors are assigned to a cohort, otherwise they will be available virtually. 

“Our core subjects are going to be top priority,” Sutherland said. “All staff is going to be assigned to a classroom and to cohorts to ensure safety and well-being of everybody.”

Recess will look slightly different, as well. Instead of the free-for-all that students experience in normal years, recess will be scheduled and divided by cohorts. Students will not have to wear masks during recess, Sutherland said. 

On Wednesdays, when students are online, they will have a virtual morning meeting at the start of the day. They then will have independent work time at home followed by virtual specials classes. The school also will provide interventions, progress monitoring and assessments like special education and English language development virtually, according to the district’s sample schedule.

Screenshot from Summit Middle School “day in the life” presentation

Middle school students

Grades 6-8

Sixth through eighth grades will start Aug. 26 with in-person learning two days per week and alternating schedules for each cohort. The other three days will be online learning.

Principal Greg Guevara said Summit Middle School will use teams of teachers to split into cohorts, which would mean about 45 students in each cohort with three teachers. However, the classes will be about 15 students in size.

Guevara said the middle school is planning to have two start times for each day. Each cohort will have a specific drop-off location and entrance to the building, according to the middle school presentation. When they enter, students will have their temperatures checked and be screened by a staff member. 

Each day will be either an “A” or “B” day. On “A” days, cohorts in that group will be taking math, science and one elective class in person while the “B” group will be at home taking English language arts and humanities classes. 

On “B” days, that group will be taking English language arts, humanities and one elective class in person while the “A” group will be taking math and science at home. Every two weeks, the schedule will switch so “A” students will take humanities and language arts while “B” students take math and science. 

Students will eat lunch in classrooms or outside, when weather permits, Guevara said. 

English language development and special education teachers will be going to school in person four days a week. Those students will be with their cohort on one day and with their English language or special education teachers on another day, depending on their cohort’s schedule. 

Online schedules will be similar to the in-person schedule. When students are online, they will be attending class through Zoom and using Google Classroom to complete assignments.

Summit High School students will be following a four-by-four system for learning, with four quarters in a year and four classes in a quarter. Each quarter will account for a semester’s worth of content, Principal Tim Ridder said.
Screenshot from Summit High School “day in the life” presentation

High school students

Grades 9-12

Ninth through 12th grades will start Aug. 26 with in-person learning two days per week and alternating schedules for each cohort. The other three days will be online learning.

When students arrive at Summit High School, they will have specific entrances based on their cohort. Staff will ensure they have been screened for symptoms, according to the high school presentation, and they then will head directly to first period. 

Principal Tim Ridder said students will be placed in cohorts as part of a four-by-four block schedule. The schedule allows for the year to be split into four quarters with four classes in each quarter. The students will be in cohorts of about 60 students with 15 students in each class.

“A quarter will be treated as a semester,” Ridder said. “We are now going to only engage in those four classes and the amount of time we’re putting in with those four classes will be a semester’s worth of content.”

Students will eat lunch in their classroom with to-go lunches provided by the school. 

When students are online, they will be using Google Classroom to do their work with self-navigated classes, which means teachers will prerecord videos and have learning activities in place. 

The school will have office hour sessions available for students to ask their teachers questions. 

“I believe in my heart the feedback that kids are able to give back to the teachers throughout instruction, and then that teachers are able to give to students, are ultimately extremely impactful on how well students learn within the classroom,” Ridder said.

For more

A video recording of the school board meeting Thursday, July 30, is available at

Click the link and type in the password 0q0Hh&nf to see the entire meeting.