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Classroom comeback: Denver Public Schools plan for in-person learning

Denver's school district is getting ready to have students return to in-person learning.

DENVER — In just a few short weeks, the once-empty hallways and classrooms at Lake Middle School in Denver will be bustling with students. 

"It's definitely going to be different," Patrick Jiner, a 7th grade math teacher at Lake Middle School, said. "We're back to full-size classes again." Jiner said for now, many students who spent the better of 2020 at home, plan to return to class.

"It's going to be a tricky situation this year, but hopefully we can get it squared away," Jiner said about current health guidance for in-person learning.

The Delta variant now makes up a majority of COVID-19 cases in Colorado as cases continue to rise.

"You'll possibly see one or two teachers in the school that will be dedicated to online teaching, which would be great," Jiner said. "They would learn all the technology and know how to run it inside and out."

Denver Public Schools' remote learning enrollment numbers, show at least 417 elementary school students, 196 middle school students and 387 high school students plan to attend school remotely.

DPS students who choose to turn their webcams back on will be enrolled online for the full school year. This is welcome news for high school freshman Denver Jiner. "I got a lot of good opportunities, and it helped me grow," Denver Jiner said. "I got good grades without distractions."

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During the pandemic, teachers watched "C" students became "B," even "A" students, when the one factor, friends, was removed from the equation. "We did see some kids that actually perform better online than they did in person," Patrick Jiner said.

But still for many students, it's that very factor of social interaction that made in-person learning essential. 

"I don't usually get distracted by my friends," Ryan Golpani, a high school freshman, said. "They push me to be better, and without them, I was lacking. I wasn't as motivated."

While uncertainty may loom in the hallways of Lake Middle School, one thing is for certain. Coloradans are ready to make a comeback to the classroom.

"As teachers, we are really going to push for things to get things back to normal as we can with the safety requirements and guidelines that we are required to have by the state," Patrick Jiner said.

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