By Vignesh Ramachandran
Beginning Nov. 30, the state’s largest district is requiring remote learning for all grades and programs through winter break. The closure comes as Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock upgraded public health conditions in several metro area counties, including Denver, to “Level Red,” indicating a severe risk of COVID-19 spread.
Denver Public Schools said it is seeing more than 300 coronavirus cases per week during in-person learning, compared to 13 cases per week in September.
“This deeply challenges our ability to operate our schools,” superintendent Susana Cordova said in a letter to the DPS community. “And we’ve already had to close many schools because we lack the staff to run them, due to required quarantines and the shortage of available substitutes.”
The district said it hopes to return elementary school students to classrooms in January.
“Our thoughts remain with those affected by COVID-19,” said Tiffany Choi, French teacher and president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, in a statement. :There is no place a teacher wants to be more than in their classrooms with their students. We are hopeful that increased restrictions will contribute to slowing the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to in-person learning sooner. We remain dedicated to providing quality-learning environments to students in any environment.”
School districts around the state are grappling with keeping students learning in-person and keeping families safe at home. Jeffco Public Schools, the state’s second-largest district, shifted grades 6-12 to remote learning on Monday, and K-5 students will go remote beginning Nov. 30. The Douglas County School District is also moving all in-person and hybrid students in preschool through 12th grade to remote learning beginning Nov. 30.
Though coronavirus spread on the Western Slope in Mesa County is also at a concerning “Level Red,” the county is taking a different approach, allowing elementary school students to continue in-person learning. Middle school students will return to classrooms on Dec. 1, though high schoolers will remain remote through the end of the semester.
“We do not take any of these decisions lightly,” Diana Sirko, superintendent of schools at the Mesa County Valley School District 51, said in a letter to families. “Closing schools affects both the economic, academic, and social and emotional well-being of our students and community and can have far-reaching effects.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.