DENVER — Denver Public Schools (DPS) kicked off its first regularly scheduled in-person classes on Tuesday with the opening of four Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers.
The opening of the ECE centers -- Pascual LeDoux, Escalante-Biggs, Sandra Todd-Williams and Stephen Knight -- marks the beginning of in-person learning this fall for DPS, said Superintendent Susana Cordova in her weekly update on the district's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some schools also opened remote learning support centers on Tuesday. The centers offer in-person support and a safe environment for students while they take remote classes, according to DPS.
Priority groups for returning back to school include students who need reliable internet, have disabilities, speak English as a second language, and who are younger.
>> Video above: Watch the full weekly update from DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova.
Cordova said the district hasn't decided on a date for schools to restart in-person learning. She said DPS is monitoring its dashboard that tracks COVID-19 cases in the district and that schools must be supplied with necessary PPE before they can reopen to students.
Discussions on a date for restarting in-person learning are continuing and the district hopes to have an update in the coming week, Cordova said.
DPS began the new school year on Aug. 24 with remote learning for everyone after pushing its start date back a week. They plan to continue the virtual learning for most students through the end of the first quarter, which is in mid-October.
Last week, Cordova introduced the district's new dashboard of data to help officials decide when it's appropriate to return to in-person learning.
The dashboard uses a color-coded system compared to a stoplight, using green, yellow and red colors to track the progress of three different kinds of data points:
- The number of positive cases per 100,000 people in Denver County in the past 14 days.
- The rates of increase or decrease in case numbers per 100,000 people in Denver County in the past 14 days.
- The percent of positive COVID tests in Denver County (positivity rate).
DPS said the color-coded dashboard will not dictate decisions about returning to in-person learning but, rather, will help guide the decision-making process.
The superintendent also gave other updates Tuesday:
- Six child care and food distribution sites were closed Tuesday due to heating issues with the buildings. Cordova said those sites should be open again by Thursday.
- Parents with students at ECE centers need to tell the district by Sept. 14 whether they want in-person learning for their students. ECE centers are limited in the number of students they have by licencing requirements on student-to-staff ratios. Most serve 16 students at a time. There are wait lists for students to get into the centers.
- The district hasn't made a decision on how to handle snow days, Cordova said, but that "our hope is that we can stay more connected with our students through technology." The fact that students have school-issued Chromebooks "will take some of the pressure off to determine how we do that."
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