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School districts release possible plans for the fall semester

Denver, Boulder and Jefferson County are all looking at multi-pronged approach to deal with COVID-19.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Outside of Coal Creek Elementary School in Louisville, teachers take care of business to end the school year by returning personal items to students while collecting things like library books and musical instruments. 

But, the end is not as daunting as the beginning of the next school year for Boulder Valley Schools (BVSD) Superintendent Rob Anderson.

"The windows of time are really short, and you have to make good quality decisions for the kids and families that you serve," Anderson said. 

Anderson released a plan to the school community that contains five phases. Phase 1 would be full remote learning while Phase 5 would be school back to normal.

"By defining what those five phases are, it will really help us make quick decisions as information comes at us," Anderson said.

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Anderson said the most likely scenario is Phase 3 in the fall, with some students remote learning and others coming back to school buildings.

"All students that are comfortable, all students and parents who are comfortable coming back to school, we'd give them that opportunity," Anderson said.

But, as things stand now, students would have to be six feet apart, no more than 10 people in a room, and plans for playgrounds, cafeterias, gym class and school buses would still have to be determined.

"I think over the next three months, what we'll try to figure out is how many kids [we can have] in our schools at any one point in time," Anderson said.

Anderson said the biggest challenge would be limiting the number of people in classrooms to 10 or fewer.

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"When you think about the ways that our schools interact, the way the kids interact, (how) kids interact with adults and each other," Anderson said. "Staying six feet apart and only having 10 students in a single area is gonna be a challenge that we’re going to have to work through and overcome."

Jefferson County Schools are looking at similar options of staggered schedules for students in the building mixed with remote learning. Denver Public Schools (DPS) is seeking input from the community through a public survey before offering its proposals.

"It might be smaller cohorts of students, and it might not be every day of the week, but we are hopeful that we'll be able to bring kids into schools and be able to do in-person with some remote learning," said DPS Deputy Superintendent of Operations Mark Ferrandino.

Ferrandino said that DPS will get possible plans to families by the end of May, with a final decision sometime in June.

"It's definitely a challenge of how do we get all of this done with changing rules, changing situations," Ferrandino said. "That's why, as we look at it, we are planning for multiple scenarios."

Denver's remote learning plans can be found here

Boulder's plan of five phases can be found here.

Jefferson County will release its plan to the public on May 22 — more information can be found here.

From Boulder to JeffCo to Denver, district leaders are taking a similar approach of having the ability of flexibility, and a plan that Anderson said should be predictable.

"We felt like it was important for us to communicate to our families this week," Anderson said. "Lots of families have lots of questions. They’re trying to plan their futures as well."

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