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Cherry Creek Schools will start the school year with phased-in approach, hope masks will be optional

Cherry Creek Schools may change start times
Posted at 2:28 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 16:28:55-04

DENVER – Kids at Cherry Creek Schools will start the school year with a phased-in approach when they return in mid-August, though policies around masks remain unclear just five weeks before thousands of students head back to class.

In a letter sent Friday to Cherry Creek School families, Superintendent Christopher Smith said his goal for the next school year would be to make sure all students have “the social-emotional and mental health support” they need after a year of remote learning, mandatory quarantines, and isolation from their peers.

To aid in that goal, he said, the district would start the first three days of the school year in a phased-in approach, with all grades back on school grounds by Wednesday, Aug. 18. Here’s how the return to school will look like for your child:

  • Monday, Aug. 16: Grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9 return to class.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: Grades 1, 2, 7 and 8 return to class.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18: All grades are back in the classroom.

Families with kids in kindergarten and high school will receive specific information directly from their schools about their back-to-school plans, he said.

Smith said the goal of this phased-in approach is to allow students to have time with their teachers in smaller settings and a more supportive start of the year. He said families would receive more details about the first week of class from their kid’s school by early August.

What bout masks? Will my kid have to wear one?

Even though the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) announced at the beginning of the month masks would no longer be necessary in schools across the state, Smith said they are continuing to monitor state and local health guidance before making a definitive decision.

The district is lifting mask requirements for all summer programs, except for the Extended School Year (ESY) program, which will still require masks to be worn indoors. While masks will be optional for these programs, the district is still strongly encouraging unvaccinated people to continue to wear a mask indoors.

“We are also hopeful that masks will be optional for all students and staff when school resumes in August,” Smith said. “Even if masks are optional when we return, anyone who is not fully vaccinated will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask while indoors.”

Additionally, Smith said the Tri-County Health Department will continue contact tracing positive cases next year and will guide the school district when quarantining is necessary. He said the district will no longer have a separate in-house contact tracing team starting next year.

He also reminded people who haven’t gotten the vaccine but who still wish to do so that they have many vaccination resources available on the district’s website.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family, our students and our community from the COVID-19 virus, including more contagious and potentially dangerous variants that are on the rise in Colorado. It is also one of the best ways to keep our schools open,” Smith said in the letter to parents.