JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — It’s never an easy job to be the face of decisions affecting an entire school district.
In a pandemic, that job gets even harder. Just ask Jefferson County Public Schools’ Superintendent Jason Glass.
“We often get these two extremes where one group thinks that we’re moving too fast, we should keep things shut down, we should be all remote learning." Glass said. "Then we have this other group that sort of feels like we should forget this virus exists and restore everything the way it was.”
Glass said he sees the value in both perspectives: It’s critical to keep the district’s 14,000 employees, 84,000 students and all their families as safe as possible, while also recognizing the need for in-person learning to eventually continue.
“We do need to restore in-person learning for academic, social/emotional, and economic reasons," he said. "We’re a huge drag on the economy if we create a childcare issue for the work force.”
The district said they’ve been looking at what schools have been doing internationally, nationally and locally to come up with learning options for the fall semester.
They have shared ideas with principals and teachers over the last few weeks. Friday, they will ask parents for their input as well.
“It’s a draft,” Glass said. “We’ve tried to put forth our best thinking and ask for feedback from the community.”
This is a similar process to what District 27-J als started this week.
That district sent emails out to their parents in Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Lochbuie and Thornton on Tuesday.
They outlined four different scenarios that could be implemented, depending on the behavior of COVID-19 and what interventions are available:
Fully Remote Learning – Everyone attends online classes
- Mostly Remote Learning — If the state only allows small groups in a classroom, the students who have a tough time learning in a remote setting would be able to go to in-person classes. Everyone else would attend class online.
- Blended Learning for All Students — This option would alternate working from home and going to school. The district is still talking about how that will look.
- Face-to-Face Learning for Most In-Person Classes: If this resumed, anyone who feels uncomfortable would be able to continue remote learning.
“I think that’s the basic structure of what everybody is thinking about,” Glass said. “Those are the basic tenants or components of our plan as well.”
Both JeffCo and 27-J Schools said plans could change on a dime.
Glass said while they will be prepared for anything, they’re hoping to have as much of a final plan as possible in July.
“I think we have to be incredibly flexible as this evolves," Glass said. "What we know today may not be the reality in August, and we should expect conditions to change across the course of the school year. A vaccine may become available, testing may become [more-widely] available. Those things may change the equation about how we have to structure school.”
9NEWS reached out to Denver Public Schools about their plan as well.
Media Relations Manager Winna Maclaren said: “We are still in planning mode for the return to classes. Right now, DPS is holding working groups to determine a few different scenarios, including a blend of remote and in-person learning. Students and staff are completing surveys this week so we can best determine how to proceed. We are also in contact with health experts and local and state officials on the conditions of the current health crisis on best practices.”
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