Denver Public Schools to begin spring semester remotely, phase kids back to classrooms by Feb. 1

Denver Public Schools’ more than 93,000 students will begin the spring semester remotely, with students returning to the classroom in phases through the month of January, the district announced Tuesday.

Virtual classes resume Jan. 5 following winter break and continue for all grades through Jan. 8, according to a note sent to families by outgoing Superintendent Susana Cordova. Thereafter, the district will gradually phase students back to in-person learning by grade level, much like it had anticipated doing in the fall before community spread of COVID-19 forced schools to close.

On Jan. 11, students enrolled in early childhood education through fifth grade, including those in SPED Centers and Newcomer Centers, are expected to return to in-person learning. And beginning Jan. 19, secondary school students may start attending classes in-person, though plans may vary by individual schools.

“Schools bring secondary students back at their own pace, including health and safety orientation days to help students acclimate to the required health protocols for in-person learning,” Cordova in her note. “Some of our smaller high schools may be able to return to in-person five days a week, while some of our larger schools may return on a hybrid schedule.”

By Feb. 1, the district plans to open schools to all students who choose to go back in-person — health conditions permitting.

“We believe this timeline prioritizes students who need in-person learning most, while also giving schools the opportunity to plan and prepare for a full-scale return to in-person learning,” Cordova said. “As always, we will continue to monitor health conditions in partnership with Denver Health and will adjust our January return plans if needed.”

Denver Public Schools is one of the first Colorado districts to announce its plans for the spring. Gov. Jared Polis has been adamant about getting kids back in schools for in-person learning and recently called a task force of educators and experts to help develop protocols that enable that format.

In-person learning at DPS was on-again, off-again through the fall semester as COVID-19 rates fluctuated. The district originally delayed the start of in-person learning for all grades before gradually phasing in its youngest students in late September. But by mid-October, DPS canceled in-person classes for middle and high school students. By the end of the month, the district returned third- through fifth-graders to remote learning. And by Nov. 30, all students were back online.

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