Dear Team DPS,
Last week, we shared with you that the increasing spread of COVID-19 in the Denver community is causing severe staffing shortages that affect our ability to offer in-person learning for early childhood education programs, in our kindergarten-2nd grade classrooms and in our center programs.
COVID rates are dangerously high outside of schools in many parts of Denver, which prompted Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock to announce stronger measures yesterday to try and get the community spread under control. This action, however, did not come soon enough to allow us to sustain staffing for in-person learning in our schools for the rest of the first semester. The cases in our schools reflect what we see in the Denver community. 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. 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.
We are now making the difficult decision to shift all K-12 grades and programs to remote learning, beginning on Monday, Nov. 30 through the winter break, which is the end of the first semester. This includes a shift to remote learning for special-education and newcomer center programs (see this FAQ for more details). ECE families will receive supports for at-home instruction, but we will not be offering full remote learning for ECE students. Families whose students attend a charter school should check with their school for updates on their plans.
This shift to remote learning will allow our teachers and students to work on consistent, uninterrupted class routines and focus their energy on the important work of learning.
We are committed to returning all elementary students at the start of second semester in January. We will also continue working with our health partners and our middle and high school leaders on efforts to have all secondary students return to in-person learning as well, as soon as we can do so safely.
We all want our students back in our schools with our educators. They’ve lost too much
in-person learning time and support during the pandemic, and there has been too big of a burden placed on our families. Please help us reopen our schools for the second semester by following all health guidelines and staying home as much as possible.