Dear Team DPS,
Among the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic is living with the uncertainty of not knowing what the future will bring. The new school year is set to begin next month, and that uncertainty about what school will look and feel like is uncomfortable for all of us – particularly when health conditions and guidance change so frequently, and when the stakes are so high for our entire community of students, families and staff.
And still, in the face of all of this uncertainty, Team DPS has risen to the challenge, planned for multiple scenarios, embraced new ways of teaching and collaborating, and lived out our shared commitment to putting Students First, time and time again. I’m deeply grateful for the resilience and optimism I’ve seen in each of you – and I believe that the way we bring those qualities to our work will make a tremendous difference for our students and families.
Full Remote Instruction through the First Quarter
I’m writing today to announce that DPS will extend 100% remote instruction from the start of school on Aug. 24 through Oct. 16, which is the end of the first quarter of the school year for many schools. We’ll be working hard to safely and gradually welcome all students back into schools, when health conditions allow.
In addition, based on the recommendations of our educator-led Return-to-School Workgroup, we’ll be working toward bringing back small groups of students identified as high priority for in-person learning as soon as Sept. 8. We are considering bringing ECE students and other high-priority students back first. We will share more details with you soon about how that will work.
Prioritizing Health, Monitoring Virus Trends
Our overriding priority throughout this challenging time has been – and continues to be – safeguarding the health and well-being of our community. And the value driving our decisions is equity. Families don't feel safe, and the pandemic is disproportionately impacting communities of color. It is critical that we partner with public-health agencies to monitor and reduce risks for all students, but most critically for the students and families most impacted by COVID-19. We must focus on doing Remote Learning well for all of our students, and we believe we’ll need to return to this option during the school year in response to changing health conditions. This will give us the runway to ensure we have implemented the improvements in remote learning, based on what we learned from the spring, and fine tune them now.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been monitoring Denver Public Health’s “caution metrics,” which have been identified by Denver Public Health as indicators that the COVID-19 epidemic in Denver and the Denver Region may be worsening. Public health partners have not yet set specific thresholds for what would guide a Stay at Home decision, so we have referenced the World Health Organization (WHO) advice to governments that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days.
Denver’s “caution metric” for positivity rates for the week ending July 26 was 4.6% on July 28. We are working with public health partners to build a framework to monitor key metrics that will inform our planning, and provide information to keep our communities updated. View the caution metrics data from Denver Public Health here.
For the latest information and FAQs, please visit our return to school page on The Commons. We will continue to keep you up to date on any new details or information as we move through the coming weeks together.
Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to adjust to the challenges of keeping our students and staff safe and healthy throughout this pandemic.