Denver Public shifts older elementary students to remote learning following COVID-19 surge

Less than one week after Denver Public Schools reopened facilities to all elementary students, the district has decided to send many of them back to remote learning as the city of Denver imposes tighter community restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to Chalkbeat, which reviewed an internal DPS document, students in third through fifth grade will return to online learning beginning Monday and attend classes virtually through the end of November. After delaying the start of in-person learning for middle and high school students, the district decided to postpone any in-person classes for secondary grades until next semester. The current semester ends on Dec. 18.

Schools will remain open for in-person learning for early childhood education students, kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders, as well as special education students and newcomers to the district. Support centers will also remain open for students who need help with remote learning.

DPS administrators met with public health experts Monday to discuss recent trends in COVID-19 cases. The three metrics that DPS tracks closely — number of COVID-19 cases in Denver County, the degree to which cases are increasing or decreasing and test positivity rate — all recently crossed into or hovered near the red zone, meaning it’s possibly unsafe to host in-person classes.

Tuesday morning, Denver reported 371.3 cases per 100,000 people over the last two weeks, a nearly 44% increase of the same time period. (That figure does not include cases reported in congregate settings, such as nursing homes and jails.) The city also reported an 8.1% seven-day positivity rate.

That is, in part, what prompted Mayor Michael Hancock to move to the second-highest level of restrictions meant to control COVID-19, shuttering gyms and forcing most businesses to operate at a quarter of their capacity.

Although Denver parents have expressed discontent about the lack in-person schooling, DPS is not alone in its approach. As cases have surged recently, Aurora Public Schools, Adams County District 14 and Sheridan District No. 2 moved their entire student bodies to online learning.

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