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2 school districts approve plans to bring students back full-time

Westminster Public Schools, Mapleton Schools worked together on fall semester plans.

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — If COVID-19 was the storm, the winds are about to change in the Westminster and Mapleton school districts.

"So, we put our plan together to come back five-days-a-week in-person, but with a lot of health precautions," Dr. Pam Swanson, Westminster Public Schools superintendent, said.

Swanson said she worked closely with Mapleton Schools Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio to craft a way to bring all students back to the classroom for the fall semester with contingencies in case of COVID-19 outbreaks.

"Our system is pretty mid-sized and so it is easier in many respects, I think, for us to be a little more nimble," Swanson said.

She said that students will only be allowed in school after daily temperature checks and questionnaires about how they're feeling.

"And, how do we keep kids in a cohort so that we're not cross-pollinating too many people," Swanson said.

Swanson believes restrictions will be changed by August to allow more people inside classrooms. Schools will hand out "Grab-and-go" lunches or eat outside when it's nice.

"We're going to look at traffic patterns in schools so that you know things like passing periods may look different so that we don't have so many people lumped in one spot," Swanson said.

RELATED: Widespread facemask use can prevent another coronavirus wave, study finds

Of course, masks will be prevalent, she said. Westminster has purchased 500,000 disposable masks to go along with 3,500 cloth ones for teachers and students.

"I hope our families are going to be able to go back to work, know that their kids are with us, and be able to do that in a good way and a safe way and not worry about it," Swanson said.

Westminster and Mapleton are the first sizable school districts in the Denver Metro area to announce plans of bringing students back to the classroom. Parents will also have the option to remain on remote learning if they wish.

"It wasn't so much about being first," Swanson said. "It was about just wanting to give everybody an option to choose from -- what made sense for their families," Swanson said.

If an outbreak does happen, Swanson said Westminster can contain exposure and place schools back into remote learning if needed. She is sharing her plans with other superintendents who are also considering full-time in-person classes, as well.

"Our plan may not be the plan for every school district, but it was the right plan for us," Swanson said.

RELATED: School district leaders react to governor's optimism about fall semester

RELATED: Colorado Board of Education meets with Gov. Polis, state health department as they piece together plans for fall

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