DENVER — Some Denver students will continue remote learning for a few more weeks.
Denver Public Schools (DPS) made the announcement Tuesday, citing a rise in local COVID-19 cases.
During a virtual update Wednesday, DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova said two of the district's indicators for tracking COVID-19 triggered a conversation with Denver Health officials that led to a pause in plans for middle and high school students returning to in-person learning.
"We definitely know that this is a big disappointment for our secondary students and our schools and staff," Cordova said. "We've been working really hard to make plans to safely reopen our doors. It was not an easy decision to make and yet we know that the most important thing we can do is focus on health on safety."
The district starts its second quarter on Oct. 21. DPS initially hoped students from all grade levels would be able to resume in-person learning by that point. Tuesday night, DPS shared the latest guidance with teachers and families:
- Elementary schools will open as planned to all grades next week.
- Middle and high schools will not open for in-person and will continue in remote learning for most students for at least three weeks into the second quarter, through Friday, Nov. 6.
- Secondary special-education center programs, newcomer centers and remote learning centers are an exception and will open for in-person at the start of the second quarter.
In an email to “Team DPS,” Cordova explained the decision:
“Our health partners assure us that elementary-aged students are at a significantly lower COVID risk, and we all know that remote learning presents special challenges for elementary students and their families. As a result, we feel confident right now in continuing with our plans to open elementary schools to all grades next week. We have the support of experts at Denver Health in that plan.”
“However, officials at Denver Health have urged more caution in looking at our middle and high schools. Older students have a higher COVID risk, and given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Denver, we have determined that most middle and high school students will continue with remote instruction for the first three weeks of the second quarter — through Friday, Nov. 6.”
Cordova said Wednesday that the district plans to revaluate plans for middle and high schools students at the end of October.
Cordova also said that the district is facing critical shortages in staffing for schools that are open for in-person learning.
Those shortages, according to Cordova, are result of a few factors, including the district asking any staff member with an illness to stay home and employees who have asked for accommodations to continue remote work.
As a result, Cordova said DPS is asking central staff office members to support open schools at least one day a week. Certified teachers and non-certified support staff will be asked to help with lunch duty, recess coverage and covering other outside of the classroom duties, Cordova said.
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