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DPS prepares to welcome students for in-person learning later this month

Students have until this Friday, Sept. 18 to decide if they want to continue with the 100% online option.

DENVER — The superintendent of Denver Public Schools (DPS) said during an update Wednesday that they're ready to welcome back students for in-person learning by the end of the month after starting the school year remotely.

She said the remote start allowed the state's largest school district to prepare properly with the necessary personal protective equipment and avoid the extreme heat, which would have been an issue because the district couldn't use their usual cooling systems in their older building, which don't have air conditioning.

"It's helped us both to work with the weather, get the PPE [and] build out the plans, [while] minimizing the impact on learning," said Cordova. "We wanted to make sure that we were starting the year with a focus on quality learning for our students."

She said during the past weeks, they've added plexiglass dividers and upgraded their HVAC systems.

Cordova sent a letter Friday saying that kindergarten students and some first graders will begin to phase into in-person learning between Sept. 28 and Oct. 2.

All first graders will phase in from Oct. 5-9, her letter said.

Plans will vary by school, and be distributed by individual principals.

RELATED: DPS details dates for in-person learning for kindergarteners, first-graders

Students in second through fifth grade will return to full in-person learning on Oct. 21, the district said. Health and safety orientations are planned for those children between Oct. 12 and 16.

Previously the district said remote learning would continue for everyone through the end of the first quarter, but said they hoped to bring back "high priority" students sooner.

As of Friday, DPS said a hybrid model was the most likely scenario due to larger class sizes and the different scheduling needs of that age group.

Health and safety orientations will begin for sixth through 12th grade students between Oct. 12 and 16, and a mix of in-person and remote learning will begin on Oct. 21, to coincide with the start of the second quarter.

Parents will receive details from their specific schools.  

The deadline for parents to choose or change their enrollment to in-person school or a virtual program is Sept. 18. If a decision is not made by then, students will automatically be enrolled in the 100% online option. That decision will be binding for the entire second quarter, according to Cordova, but can be revised at that time.

She said she understands that parents might want to wait longer to make the choice, but said that information is needed for planning purposes.

"A lot of our scheduling really is dictated around the number of students who want to be in-person and the requirements around the size of cohorts," Cordova said.

The cohort is the total number of students that could interact during a day, which is larger than a class size, which would likely be a maximum of 35 students. 

She didn't have an exact number, but Cordova said just over 30% of students have opted to continue with 100% online learning.

RELATED: 4 DPS early learning centers, remote support centers open for in-person

Last week, DPS opened several learning centers that offer in-person support for students who are learning remotely.

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