DENVER — Many school districts across Colorado are gearing up for the spring semester, and some have opted to return to in-person learning within the first few weeks.
For months, education leaders across the state have stressed the importance of in-person learning, especially for young students. But districts have faced staffing shortages among other challenges while navigating education during a pandemic.
"... schools do not have enough staff members available (including substitutes, bus drivers and nutrition services personnel) to come to school every day to support in-person learning," Littleton Public Schools Superintendent Brian Ewert said in a letter to staff and parents on the district's website.
However, Gov. Jared Polis last month said on-site testing for those who are symptomatic, contact tracing, symptom screening, cohorts, handwashing, ventilation and mask-wearing are among the tools schools will leverage to return to in-person learning in 2021.
Here are the plans school districts along the Front Range have made for returning to in-person learning:
The district began the first week of the second semester on Jan. 5, fully remote for all students. Then students had the option to return to in-person instruction Jan. 12 if that option was previously selected by the student's family.
27J Schools said it will continue with its current in-person, hybrid or online learning programs through Spring Break.
27J Schools has more than 18,000 students in parts of Adams, Broomfield and Weld counties.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Remote learning begins for all students on Jan. 7 and limited in-person learning begins Jan. 11, the district said.
Grades P-5 will return to full-time in-person learning Jan. 25, and hybrid learning for grades 6-12 and a full-time learning option continues for those who previously selected it.
Adams 12 serves more than 39,000 students in Adams County.
Aurora Public Schools
Starting on March 22, all middle school students will return to full in-person learning Monday through Thursday. High school students will start attending in-person school for half days either in the mornings or the afternoons Monday through Thursday.
APS said they will consider bringing high school students back for full days after April 27.
Elementary school students are continuing in-person learning.
Boulder Valley School District
The district plans to return to in-person learning on the following dates:
- Tuesday, Jan. 5: Elementary schools (Grades PK-5)
- Tuesday, Jan. 12: Middle schools (Grades 6-8)
- Tuesday, Jan. 19: High schools (Grades 9-12)
Cherry Creek School District
All CCSD middle and high schools will reopen for full In-Person learning on Monday, April 5, and will continue in that capacity through the end of this school year.
This change is for students who chose In-Person for their learning option this year and have been attending school on the hybrid model. Cherry Creek Elevation and K-5 Online learners will continue following their regular schedules through the end of the school year. For In-Person learners who do not feel ready to come back to full In-Person learning, CCSD will offer a remote option that will allow students to finish the year without coming back full-time.
More information can be found on the district website.
Denver Public Schools
The district said they hope to expand in-person learning for middle and high school students following springs break.
"We are hopeful that we will be able to operate our middle and high schools in a way that feels much closer to what we are used to," said Will Jones, a spokesperson with DPS. "We’ve been working on plans connected to the new cohorting guidance. Once those plans are finalized, we will share those details."
On Jan. 11, all early-childhood education through 5th-grade students returned to in-person learning, the district said on its website. All secondary SPED Centers and Newcomer Centers also returned to in-person learning.
Secondary students began a gradual phase-in to in-person learning Jan. 19 – 29.
DPS will continue to offer, throughout the second semester, the 100% remote-learning option for all K-12th grade students whose families chose that option.
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Douglas County School District
The district's board of education unanimously approved a plan to bring middle and high school students back for full, in-person learning five days a week after spring break on March 22 at its March 2 meeting.
Superintendent Corey Wise cited downward trends in COVID-19 cases, increased vaccinations, accessibility to testing and support from Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) to return to in-person learning as indicators the district is ready to open.
The district welcomed middle and high school students back to hybrid learning in early February.
The district emphasized that staff and students will be required to wear masks and social distance, along with lunch seating plans and quickly targeting quarantines.
Superintendent Wise said that the timing of returning students in the fourth quarter is a natural transition for students and staff and suggested that families who travel over spring break to get tested before returning to school and asked that anyone who feels sick to stay home.
The district said it will work with TCHD on mitigation and quarantine practices and will be stricter about students choosing to remain remote and will have to get permission from the school's principal.
A survey from the district's Student Advisory Group found a majority of students want to return to school.
Preschool and elementary students returned to in-person learning, five days a week, on Jan. 5, with center-based programming students at the middle and high school levels returning that same day to in-person learning four days a week, the district said.
DCSD posted an interactive COVID-19 Tracker for families to better understand the number of cases in schools.
Greeley-Evans District 6
Preschool through grade 12 will return to fully remote learning Jan. 6, the district said.
On Jan. 11, kindergarten, first and second grades return in-person. (Preschool does not meet on Mondays, so those students will return Jan. 12). Grades 3-12 remain in remote learning.
Preschool, elementary schools, K-8 and middle schools return in-person Jan. 18. High Schools return to a hybrid model that is a combination of in-person and online synchronous learning on the same date.
Jeffco Public Schools
Jeffco schools will return to full in-person learning for grades 6-12 in a phased approach between March 15 and April 5.
By April 5, all hybrid learning will conclude, and students currently scheduled for hybrid learning will move to in-person learning Monday-Thursday unless an alternate request is made to their school. All students who are currently learning 100% remotely will continue to do so unless a request to change their status is made with their school.
Friday will be an asynchronous day where students can catch up on work or meet with the teachers for additional help or support.
Students returned on Jan. 6 after the winter break and were fully remote for two weeks.
On Jan. 19, grades K-5 returned to in-person learning, the district said.
Middle school and high school students (grades 6-12) returned to in-person instruction in a hybrid model Monday, Jan. 25.
Littleton Public Schools
The district is looking to return to in-person learning through four phases;
- Jan. 5: All preschool and elementary students return for in-person learning five days a week.
- Middle and high school students continue remote learning during Phase One.
Phase Two (tentative)
- Jan. 11: All middle school teachers return to school to teach remotely from their classrooms.
- Jan. 11: Begin targeted in-person support for some English Learners, some students on IEPs with moderate needs and other student groups requiring in-person support at the middle and high school level.
- Jan. 19: Middle school students return to school in the hybrid model of in-person learning.
- High schools continue with remote learning during Phase Two.
Phase Three (tentative)
- Jan. 19: All high school teachers return to school to teach remotely from their classrooms.
- Jan. 25: High school students return to school in the hybrid model of in-person learning.
The district is hopeful that middle and high school students will be able to return to full-time, in-person learning in April.
Poudre School District
Preschool and elementary students returned to in-person learning on Jan. 19 and secondary schedules were changed to allow students to begin their in-person learning sooner than previously announced.
Jan. 19-22 (MLK Holiday is Jan. 18):
- Preschool through grade 5 in Phase 4 (schools open with safety protocols)
- 6-8 in Phase 3 (B group attends Tuesday/Thursday; A group attends Wednesday/Friday)
- 9-12 in Phase 1 (remote learning)
- Preschool through grade 5 in Phase 4 (schools open with safety protocols)
- 6-12 in Phase 3 (A group attends Monday/Wednesday; B group attends Tuesday/Thursday; remote learning for students on Friday)
Poudre School District announced Thursday night, that it plans for all middle and high school students to return to in-person learning, with safety protocols, on March 22nd.
Sheridan School District 2
The district will continue remote learning through Jan. 14. In-person learning will resume Jan. 19.
RELATED: 'Very difficult': Sheridan Schools superintendent talks about making the tough decision to go remote
Westminster Public Schools
Students will return to remote learning Jan. 5, then transition to in-person learning, Jan. 11.
>> More information on the district's COVID-19 plan can be found here.
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