DENVER – Denver Public Schools will go to fully remote learning for all grades for the rest of the semester as the coronavirus surges, the district announced Wednesday.
Remote learning will begin for more than 90,000 students in Colorado’s largest school district on Monday and run through the end of winter break. The district’s decision also applies to special education students.
In September, the district reported about 13 new coronavirus cases weekly, mostly involving teachers and staff members, when it first opened early childhood education classes. It said newly reported cases now have surpassed 300 per week, causing teacher and staff shortages and forcing individual schools to close.
“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,” superintendent Susana Cordova said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Colorado’s Democratic Gov. Jared Polis urged schools to remain open. Polis emphasized the importance for preschool and elementary students to remain in the classroom despite the state’s latest wave of newly reported COVID-19 cases and a growth in hospitalizations. Those trends have led many counties – including Denver – to move to tighter restrictions on gatherings, including no indoor dining and limiting gyms to 10% capacity.
Polis said data show that transmission in elementary schools is lower than in many other activities, making it a safer option.
“We feel, based on the data, for many kids and many families, that’s the safest place they can be with the safety parameters we have at school,” Polis said.
The district said it plans to return elementary students to in-person learning for the second semester, which starts in January. It said authorities will work with health officials to have middle and high school students back in school, but it wasn’t immediately clear when that would be.