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Eads Schools Resume with Few Covid Restrictions

By Raina Lucero

August 18, 2021

When the 2020-2021 school year began, the world was a scary place.  There was much uncertainty and paranoia surrounding the state of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic.  State and Public health agencies issued guidance and protocols for all schools to follow to ensure the safe return to school for our children and faculty.

As the year went on there were cohorts placed in quarantine, sports schedules mixed up and masks on every person over the age of 10. 

These were confusing and trying times for everyone as the changing guidance and mandates handed down by big city bureaucrats created an environment of inconsistency and instability at times, which made getting back into the swing of things difficult for some.

But like all children do, the students adapted and took it all in stride, they did not let the issues of the world keep them from learning and growing. They took the lead from their parents and from the competent staff at Eads Schools and they went right back to stiving to be the best.

With the vaccine becoming readily available for most adults near the beginning of the year we saw restrictions loosen and life getting back to some sort of normalcy by the end of the school year. 

This summer, our kids were able to be kids again.  Summer Baseball, swimming lessons, play dates at the park, and movies on the weekend.  Families went on vacations, soaking up the sunshine and for some the freedom from living behind a mask for the better part of a year. 

Now with school back in session our outlook on life as we know it is hopeful, yet we are cautious as the Delta Variant appears to be rearing its head threatening our freedom yet again.

Eads Schools has released information to let stakeholders know that as of the beginning of instruction, no staff members or students are required to wear a mask and will not be made to until required to by State or Public Health agencies.  There are no cohorts, temperatures taken, or any other restrictions that are holding our students back from a “life-as-normal” atmosphere.

After a hard year, the end of the 2020-2021 school year opened many positions as some staff members moved on to pursue other opportunities, entered partial or full retirement, and the needs of the student body has changed creating new positions.

When the doors opened Monday, August 9, the halls were filled with students eager to learn, as well as many new staff members, some of which are not so new to Eads Schools as others. 

Of the 10 new positions, 6 of those were filled by Eads Alumni. 

Alicia James is a 2013 Eads High School graduate and has taken the reins as the Second-Grade teacher this year. 

Justin Lenox, also a 2013 graduate, has brought his experience from his teaching in the Hugo School District and his time learning under the instruction of influential teacher Lance Jagers back home and has taken over as the Junior High and High School Vocational and Agriculture Education instructor.  Justin brings his wife and their son to Eads with him where they plan to become a part of the community. 

Ciara McCracken, a 2010 Eads High School graduate is now the Pre-School Director.  Ciara is married to AJ McCracken the Kiowa County Fire Protection District Chief.  They have 2 children who attend Eads Elementary. 

Brenna Rouse a 2018 graduate has joined the faculty as Title 1 instructor.

Autumn Rouse, a 2002 Eads High School graduate has joined the cafeteria staff, she and her husband John Rouse have 4 children who all attend Eads Schools.

Lacy Van Campen, a 2004 graduate has hung up her home daycare hat to pick up a new one as a para for Eads Schools.  Lacy and her husband JD have 2 children who are both now in school. 

Other new members of the staff are Alissa Archer, the wife of medical practitioner Michael Archer.  Alissa is now the part-time High School math teacher. They have 2 sons who are enrolled in the school.

Denise Nelson, a long time Eads resident, and mother to 3 children has taken over the High School Business Teaching position. She and her husband Sam were honored to watch their oldest son Hatch walk across the Eads High School stage last year as a graduate.

Kayla McLoud who has been the preschool director has now stepped into the role of helping teach 1st grade in the afternoons, while still working in the preschool for the morning session. She and her husband, Justin, who is the Eads Junior High science and math teacher have 2 children in school. 

The beloved elementary librarian Kathy Watson or Ms. Kathy as she is fondly known, entered retirement this year.  Her position has been filled by Pamela Crow and Linda Offill each working 2 days per week.

The current enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year is 189 K-12, which is up only 1 after last year.  The Eagles Nest Preschool has 17 children enrolled in their 4-year-old program and 16 in the 3-year-old. 

Last year’s 4-year-old class was too large for Eagles Nest to offer a 3-year-old program.  With that class moving on to Kindergarten, Mrs. Uhland has an impressive 27 students in her class this year.  This is the largest class size Eads has seen in several years and brings hope for higher enrollment numbers in the years to come.

Mrs. Jackie Rittgers in the elementary office has indicated to us that all school lunches are free for all students again this year.  However, it can be very beneficial for parents and guardians to fill out the free/reduced application as they may qualify for other programs that can help their families.  This is also a benefit to the school.

Eads Schools has partnered with Colorado Aerolab, a non-profit group that will offer before, after, and Friday instruction for students.  Jess Buller, an educator himself, wrote a grant that will fund the programs known as “the 5th Day”.

The grants come from federal OSD programs and focus on 21st Century skills such as communication skills, leadership skills, relationship building, arts, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) knowledge. 

There are several components to the program.  First there will be a Breakfast Club which will meet Monday-Thursday in a small quiet atmosphere at the school cafeteria.  The program will also work with the Eads Elementary teachers during the “after school homework” hour to help with that program as well as offer fun less-structured activities. 

On Fridays a more encompassing curriculum will be utilized that encompasses hands-on, project-based learning.  It is uncertain yet, but the times may be from 8-12 or 9-1 with possible lunch and/or snack offered. According to Buller, “Some details are still up in the air as we want to make sure the program fits in with the normal schedules.”

This program will depend on teachers and other volunteers within our community to work with the students outside of school hours.  There is a curriculum created by Colorado Aerolab and is focused for rural students and schools.

The grant is for 3 years and requires 12 hours of contact time per week.  There is a portion of this time that focuses on family engagement, film screenings with parents, newsletters and tips and tricks for parents.

Kit Carson will also be utilizing this program with a slightly different schedule and focus.  Eads parents should have received a letter Thursday explaining the program and inviting them to sign their student up. 

This is free for all, but the students must be registered.  Eads will start their program on August 23 and Kit Carson will begin on August 30. 

While we cannot foresee the challenges that we may face this year, once thing is for certain, a small tight-knit community like ours combined with dedicated educators, and a strong resilient student body can withstand anything.

We at the Independent hope each student and staff member have an outstanding and safe year!

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