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DPS, Denver Health doctor provide update as more students return to in-person learning

Superintendent Susana Cordova and a doctor from Denver Health provided an update Tuesday as the district continues to navigate COVID-19.

DENVER — Denver Public Schools (DPS) Superintendent Susana Cordova and a doctor from Denver Health provided an update Tuesday morning as students in the district continue to phase into in-person learning.

Cordova was joined by Dr. Bill Burman for the 11 am. briefing where they discussed district updates, as well as health conditions for the Denver area. 

“Rates within school-aged children in Denver remain relatively low and stable," Burman said. “In part, for that reason, we continue to think that the Denver Public Schools’ plan of carefully reopening in-person instruction in phases, starting with the youngest children, is a very good plan.”

All first grade students are phasing into in-person learning this week. Plans vary by school and were distributed by individual principals. Students in second through fifth grades will return to full in-person learning on Oct. 21, which coincides with the beginning of the second quarter. 

DPS has partnered with COVIDCheck Colorado, a social benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investments, to provide staff access to fast and accurate COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and tools to support public health department contact-tracing efforts.

Cordova said Tuesday that about 25% of DPS educators have participated in that COVID-19 testing so far with positive results in the 1% range.

“Our numbers are very, very low right now, and it certainly seems to mirror the trends that we’re seeing [in] school districts that are open,” Cordova said. “We are monitoring that very closely so that we can make sure that our reopening is safe.”

RELATED: DPS reports a decline in enrollment, particularly among younger students

Students in the sixth through 12th grades are also expected to begin in-person instruction on Oct. 21. That in-person instruction will look different depending on the school, Cordova said last week. She said students would have a minimum of 10 hours per week of in-person instruction, but said some schools might have more. 

Cordova also said Tuesday that one of the biggest challenges has been planning around the "very different" scenarios and accommodations at each school, particularly at the high school level. 

"We have some high schools, for example, where close to half of the students have selected the 100% percent virtual program; we have other high schools where 80% percent have selected the in-person program, so very different scenarios [in] terms of how to be able to do that," Cordova said. 

RELATED: DPS: Hybrid learning to include minimum of 10 hours of face-to-face instruction

Cordova said in all cases, any family who has selected in-person instruction will have scheduled times within DPS buildings to receive support to go along with course work conducted virtually. 

Students have the option to continue with 100% online learning. That decision is binding for the duration of the first semester (end of December) but could be revisited after that, according to DPS. 

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