Denver Public Schools to send all students to remote learning after Thanksgiving break

Denver Public Schools is moving the few grades still attending in-person classes back to a fully remote format, the district announced Wednesday.

Beginning Nov. 30, students in kindergarten, first and second grade will tune into their classes virtually. Third- through fifth-graders will remain in remote learning through the end of the semester. DPS will not offer early childhood education classes online, but the district said families will receive supports for conducting at-home instruction. The transition to remote applies to all programs, including special education and newcomer center programs.

The decision comes as cases and hospitalizations surge across Colorado. On Tuesday, the state announced updates to its color-coded dial system that place increased restrictions on businesses and gatherings in a number of counties, including Denver.

Gov. Jared Polis said that schools should remain in-person for kindergarten through fifth grades even in Level Red counties. However, outgoing Superintendent Susana Cordova said in a note to families Wednesday that increased rates of COVID-19 and quarantines have caused staffing shortages that no longer make in-person learning feasible.

“In September, we were seeing about 13 cases per week when we first opened up ECE centers. We are now seeing over 300 cases per week,” Cordova wrote. “This deeply challenges our ability to operate our schools. 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.”

In-person learning at DPS has been on-again, off-again since the fall semester began in August, as the rate of COVID-19 has fluctuated. The district originally delayed the start of in-person learning for all grades before it began to gradually phase in its youngest students in late September. By mid-October, however, DPS canceled in-person classes for middle and high school students. By the end of the month, it returned third- through fifth-graders to remote learning.

Denver Public Schools was among the first districts to move students predominantly to remote education — much to the chagrin of many parents — as Colorado experienced a new wave of COVID-19 infections. Around the metro area, Cherry Creek School District, Aurora Public Schools, Sheridan School District No. 2, Westminster Public Schools, Adams County School District 14 and Adams 12 Five Star Schools have recently moved their classes online.

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