ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) is moving to fully remote learning as COVID-19 cases in the district and surrounding community have reached concerning levels.
CCSD said Thursday was the ninth day in a row where the district's COVID Tracker posted a sustained "red zone" rating signaling a dangerous level of the virus, prompting the decision to go fully remote.
According to the district, middle and high school students currently enrolled in in-person learning will finish out the week in classrooms. Teachers will have Monday and Tuesday of next week to prepare before remote learning begins on Wednesday, Nov. 11. CCSD said it wanted to transition older students to remote learning first due to higher rates of positive cases reported in older students.
Pre-school and elementary students will have their last day of in-person learning on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Remote learning for those students will begin Monday, Nov. 16.
In a letter to parents announcing the move, CCSD Superintendent Scott Siegfried said it was a decision he did not take lightly.
"Our internal data continues to show that spread of the virus is minimal inside schools," Siegfried wrote. "However, the level of spread in the community is so significant that we are seeing increased student and staff cases coming into the schools from the community making it more difficult to operate."
Siegfried said he's already started conversations with public health officials and the teachers’ association to evaluate the option of bringing the district's youngest students back for in-person learning sooner.
"The data has allowed us to have 11 weeks of successful in-person learning, and when the data indicates a sustained 7-14 day trend of ratings in the 'green zone,' we will transition students back to in-person learning," the letter continued. "My hope is that this period of remote learning is short-lived, and students are again in class very soon."
These are factors that school districts across Colorado need to weigh. In the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), Chief Communications Officer Randy Barber said the district is working to keep in-person learning going as long as possible.
"As you see your colleagues in other places call it, you know why they're making those decisions, and absolutely it's something that we're thinking about," Barber said.
He said the list of schools in BVSD dealing with suspected COVID-19 cases is long and growing. Barber said the district is working to keep up.
"At some point or another, you know, the capacity really gets impacted when you have quarantines, and you just can't keep schools open at that point," Barber said.
If Boulder has to make the switch, Spanish teacher Hillary Culbertson said she is ready to make the change for her students at Centennial Middle School.
"Usually on the weekends, I pack a little extra in my bag just in case knowing that we don’t really know what’s going to happen," Culbertson said. "Every day that we get to come back with kids, I think, is a good day."
As the Cherry Creek School District prepares to make its transition, the district posted these details related to the remote plan:
If a family requires a device or internet access for remote learning, please contact your school.
- Free meals
Food and Nutrition Services will provide free breakfast and lunch at remote locations. View the schedule and locations here: cherrycreekschools.org/FreeMeals.
Childcare will look very similar to the care provided this summer with curbside health screening, check-in/out and cohorting by grade level. What may be different for some families is that care may not be provided at your school, but a school close by. In the remote learning model, the instruction will be a mixture of synchronous (students learning online together at the same time) and asynchronous. Extended Childcare Services (ECS) will provide space and supervision for both types of instruction for the children attending. However, ECS staff will not be providing instruction to students during this time. Children attending should bring their own technology to use, but back-up technology will be available, if needed.
Additional details on the district's remote learning plan can be found here.
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