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Back to school with face masks and social distancing

Students get in line on the first day of school to start their fall semester at International School in Denver.

Heading back to school this fall looks and feels different this year. Like everything in 2020, there is nervousness and uncertainty as children, teachers and adminstrators start the fall semester.

Last March, schools throughout Colorado shut their doors to follow safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Fast forward to August 2020, Colorado decision makers in some school districts are allowing students to return to in-person learning based on science and health data.

Denver area moms in the Facebook group Denver Asian Mom Extraordinaires reflect on making difficult decisions for their children that generally fall under: homeschooling, remote learning, in-person learning or a hybrid.

One mother shared: “I’ve been watching the superintendent and principal’s messages and feel confident in the measures they’re taking to send both my kids to school. But everyone’s decision must be their own and what’s best for their family. We still have some concerns but my kids thrive on interactions with peers. Other kids do fine by themselves.”

Another mother will be keeping her children at home. She said: “My children will start remote learning this semester since we have high risk family members. I worry that my Kindergartener will struggle in 1st grade next year as I am not sure how I’ll be able to get her to sit and study at home.”

(Dylan Phi starts first grade in the Cherry Creek School District, where young students are required to wear face masks.)

  • Aurora Public Schools | The school district started their first quarter with remote learning only. More than 18,000 technology devices were provided to students, enhancing student access to eBooks and tripling their usage plus partnering with providers to increase Internet access and delivering hotspots to students.

  • Cherry Creek School District | CCSD students are provided an online learning option for K-12, full in-person learning for PreK to fifth grade, and blended in-person learning for 6th to 12th grade. Schools opened with a phased-in week in which students in each grade level attended school for a limited amount of time in the first week to get used to new routines and COVID safety practices.

  • Denver Public Schools | Denver Mayor Hancock, in a video, welcomed back students for a virtual learning experience, which started August 24. In-person learning has not started yet.

  • Douglas County School District | The Douglas County School District will start the 2020-2021 school year on a hybrid schedule in their Road to Return plan. A hybrid schedule organizes preschool through 12th grade students into cohorts that rotate between two days of in-person learning and three days of eLearning from home each week. A 100 percent eLearning model is also offered to families who prefer that option.

  • Littleton Public Schools | Students started school August 24 with in-person learning for PreK to fifth grade and hybrid/blended model for grades 6 to 12. “We are ready to move between an in-person school model and a hybrid/blended learning model, as well as a robust online learning model should Arapahoe County COVID data suggest we need to do so for the safety of our students and staff,” said LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert.

Written by Mary Jenverre Schultz

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