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Changing school plans force tough decisions for Jeffco parent, college student

One Jefferson County dad decide to move to Missouri to guarantee in-person learning for his daughter.

DENVER — When Simone Elkins left Denver to go to college, her plans didn't include a junior year of full remote learning. So, she changed her plans.

"If you told me (high school) senior year that I was going to take a semester off and work at home, I probably wouldn't have believed you," Elkins said.

She was supposed to be attending the University of Puget Sound in Washington, but her school decided to go back to full remote learning in the fall to be safe from COVID-19.

"I believe it's taking away from this experience," Elkins said.

She said that online classes don't work for her, so she'll stay in Denver and work full-time instead.

"For me, for both my own sort of health and well-being as well as the fact that I don't feel I'm getting the education that I'm paying for, it was the right decision for me to take a semester off," Elkins said.

At Vivian Elementary in Lakewood, Jason Russell made an even bigger decision for his 10-year-old daughter Reagan.

"We at least looked into and explored other districts that were open, and we just couldn't really find one in Colorado that was really committing to open," Russell said.

Instead of staying in the Jefferson County School District, Russell moved to Columbia, Missouri for the best guarantee, he believes, that his daughter will go to school in-person.

"At the end of the day, we never felt like there was a time when JeffCo was really going to open," Russell said.

JeffCo Schools changed the initial plan of full in-person learning to remote learning for all students through Sept. 8 before launching a hybrid of remote and in-person learning for grades sixth through 12th and full in-person learning for elementary school.

RELATED: Here are the fall plans for Colorado school districts

Russell said he's not confident that JeffCo will have in-person learning that soon. He said he loves Vivian Elementary and the district, but remote learning doesn't work for Reagan.

"That's what the country's about, right, some freedom of choice, and that's what we decided to take was our freedom," Russell said.

Russell made the decision to go.

"It was hard. It was a lot of research. It wasn't the only city we looked at," Russell said.

Elkins made the decision to stay home, work and find an apartment.

"I think it will a fun trial run of being a real adult to sort of live on my own," Elkins said.

RELATED: JeffCo parents and students march for in-person learning option

They both never predicted how COVID-19 would change the direction of their lives.

"If JeffCo changes their mind or if Colorado changes their mind and things are better, then we'll look at coming back," Russell said. "Colorado is our home."

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