Denver Public Schools plans for a return to normal with help from $200M in stimulus money

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DENVER — Denver Public Schools leaders announced plans for a return to full in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. While a remote option will also be available, the district is hoping most students, especially young learners, will have an experience similar to pre-pandemic schooling.

One big question is whether students eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines will be required to get the shot before they can return to school. Dr. Steven Federico, director of general pediatrics at Denver Health, said discussions will start taking place over the next few months, but for now DPS does not anticipate requiring the shot.

“You’ve seen this in higher education. I think that we will continue to see different organizations move in that direction — healthcare facilities, and potentially public education,” Federico said.

DPS Deputy Superintendent of Schools Michael Ramirez said masks will remain required for the foreseeable future, but some protocols may relax, including the 3-foot distancing guideline. Quarantine requirements will also likely loosen as more students are vaccinated. Dr. Federico said 40% of 16- and 17-year-olds in Denver County have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a separate call on Thursday, DPS Chief Financial Officer Chuck Carpenter laid out plans for spending more than $200 million in federal stimulus money. More than $25 million is proposed for air quality and ventilation improvements in schools. Another $28 million is proposed for accelerated learning plans to help students recover from any pandemic year learning loss.

The district will also use some of the stimulus money toward a remote learning option for the 2021-22 school year. Registration for the remote option will open on Monday, May 10.