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Littleton Schools delays school starts, says 'significantly more' parents will have to provide transportation

Classes will now begin on Aug. 24 instead of Aug. 13, as originally planned, according to the superintendent.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The Littleton Public School District released details Friday about its plan for the fall, which will include a delayed start, according to district superintendent Brian Ewert.

"There are so many complex issues that we are dealing with and so many moving parts, that we simply needed more time to put an effective model in place," he said.

Ewert made the remarks during a back-to-school telephone town hall Thursday night that included leaders from the different school districts in Arapahoe County.

They'll also offer in-person and 100% online classes for the coming year.

A more detailed plan was posted on the district website Friday afternoon which said that the Tri-County Health and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) hadn't finalized their protocols for schools around testing, contact tracing, quarantine and temporary shifts to distance learning when outbreaks occur. 

Without that information, district officials felt they could not open at the targeted date in a safe way, according to the website.

Click/tap here to read the full plan from the district

The district also cited the need for more time to hire and train staff and to prepare classrooms for physical distancing requirements.

They also noted that parents might not feel comfortable making a choice between in-person or online learning without knowing what protocols and procedures will be in place. Depending on the grade level, students will be able to transition back to in-person learning at certain times during the year.

Click/tap here for details about the online program known as TOPS

Ewert said they've been gathering data over the last few months about what went well and what didn't during distance learning last spring. 

"One of the key reasons we're pushing back to our Aug. 24 start is to make sure that our teachers have significant time in training and are able to understand how to better support students and families in an online environment," Ewert said.

He said they're now building a fully online program that will look different than options used during short remote learning periods that might be needed in the event of an outbreak or building closure.

In an effort to limit potential exposures, the district said as a "general rule" parents and visitors would not be allowed in schools during the school day and there would no field trips or assemblies.

Ewert said the district will have a mask requirement for all students and staff with the exception of preschool students. They're working on plans for transportation for meals.

While details weren't released, the district said due to physical distancing limitations on buses it would be necessary for "significantly more" parents to transport their students to and from school.  

RELATED: APS delays start of new school year

Earlier this week, both Douglas County Schools and Aurora Public Schools announced they were pushing back the start of the new school year. 

The Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced they're also considering a delayed start and expect to have more information next week. DPS also announced plans about a possible "staggered start" where they were they would bring back students gradually for in-person learning. 

RELATED: DPS working on COVID-19 quarantine scenarios that could make your head spin

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