DENVER — Like most schools across the metro area, High Point Academy has shifted all their students to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But before the school year began, the leadership team at the school created a safe model for their students with a hybrid in-person/remote learning.
“We start with arrival,” said the school’s Executive Director Keri Melmed. “We have lots of staff outside who are taking students’ temperatures before they get out of the car.”
High Point Academy is an independent pre-K thru 8th grade charter school in northeast Denver. The school has a diverse student population of about 700 students from Aurora, Brighton and Denver. Melmed said a strong relationship with parents contributes to the success of the school.
“We truly believe that we are serving them, and we are here to work in partnership so that we can best meet their students’ needs,” Melmed said.
So, when schools started moving to remote learning in March, High Point Academy’s leadership team started planning on how to safely get students back in the classrooms and give parents a break at home.
“We had some families express to us that it’s really hard to have their child at home, they have to get back to work,” said Melmed.
“A little juggling, yes… who’s picking up the kids today who’s doing this with the kids today between me and my husband,” added parent Melissa West.
West, who has a daughter in 4th grade and another daughter in 8th grade at the school, said teaching her kids at home has its challenges.
“Yeah, it takes a toll on families I think,” West said. “I love having my kids around. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, I raised my kids, but now they’re in school so I’m trying to do my own career.”
The school said under the new model, they’re implementing precautions like limiting hallway movement and no classrooms with more than 10 students as a way for them to social distance.
“It’s different with all the classes,” said 8th grader Kinsley West. “There’s only 10 people in a class and so it’s different to go from 30 to 10.”
“It’s been different because of the mask is kind of difficult to wear all day and we have to be spaced out and everything,” added 7th grader Caleb Toussaint. “We stay in the same classroom and the teachers come in so we’re pretty stable.”
Melmed said she realizes this year has been stressful with the changing guidelines but wants to make sure that her students and families feel safe and confident with what the school is doing.
“We just wanted to be part of the solution and if the solution is to support your child at home, we’re here for you,” said Melmed.
The school hopes these strategies will get their students back on track and help parents breathe a little easier.
“I think kids should still be kids,” said Melissa West. “I know it’s a scary time, but we also have to live our lives.”
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