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Denver Public Schools releases proposed plan for in-person classes this fall

Denver Public Schools superintendent search: Final community meetings this week
Posted at 4:25 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 23:29:26-04

DENVER — Denver7 has obtained a copy of a detailed draft plan for returning students to in-person classes this fall, and the guidelines feature an array of social distancing measures and health and safety protocols, including a requirement for all students and staff to wear masks and limits on the number of classes for secondary school students.

The district said this week it is considering a move to start classes on Aug. 24, one week later than usual also use a phased-in approach instead of having all students return at once. Parents and students will also have the option to choose virtual learning for the 2020-21 school year.

That's an important option for Anthony and Natasha Lopez, whose children attend DPS schools.

"I don't think it's safe to send them back at all," Natasha said.

With COVID-19 picking up steam again in Colorado, the couple wants their children to avoid close contact with other students for the time being.

Daughter Essence Lopez-Hernandez said, "I've been hearing that a lot of kids miss school. They don't want to do online learning, and some kids are going to stay home, but I would rather not go to school."

The proposed guidelines on Thursday gave an outline of what school might look like for students in the state's largest district, with limited gatherings and "cohorts," along with limits on other school activities.

The guidelines are similar to what other districts are planning, including Jeffco Public Schools, which was the first major Colorado district to announce plans to offer in-person classes.

Read the district's proposed guidelines here.

The DPS return to in-person classes would include:

• For secondary schools, no more than four classes per day. For elementary schools, no more than two classes, or cohorts, per day.

• The secondary school schedules would be four courses per quarter for the same cohort of 120 students, an effort to limit students' interactions.

• Daily health screenings for all students and staff entering the building

• Protocols for positive cases, including isolation of students who test positive and remote learning for students who are contact with positive cases

• Required masks on school grounds, with some exceptions. The district is "awaiting further direction" about mask wearing for the youngest students in the district.

• Delivery of PPE to schools, including one thermometer for every 40 students, two cloth masks per student, face shields and hand sanitizer

• Full capacity in classrooms but with social distancing in place and removal of community desks

• No singing or wind instruments in music classes

• Movable fans, including swamp coolers, would not be allowed

• Staggered passing periods to maximize social distancing

• Closed high school campuses, meaning students won't be able to pick up food off site

• All meals eaten in classrooms

• Closed libraries, though librarians will be able to bring books to students in their classrooms

• Lockers will not be used. Students will be asked to bring their items to class.

• Health screens would be conducted before students board a bus. Only one student would be allowed per seat with a maximum of 24 on a single bus. Seat sharing exceptions would be made for siblings.

The proposed guidelines include more detailed examples of possible class schedules and grading policies.

Schools will be asked to develop a site-specific COVID-19 plan by July 31, using the guidelines as a template.