Jeffco Public Schools to bring grades 6-12 back to in-person learning by April 5

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DENVER – Jeffco Public Schools will bring students in grades 6-12 back to in-person learning with a phased approach that will have students back in classrooms full time by April 5, the district announced Friday.

On March 15, Jeffco will start bringing those students back to classrooms based on each school’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports process, the district said, along with considerations for various students’ needs. The district said each school will be contacting families based on their prioritization.

Starting April 5, the district will end its hybrid model and move to in-person learning for middle school and high school students Monday through Thursday unless a student is on a 100% remote model, which they will stick with, the district said.

In March, the district said that schools will continue to keep 6 feet of distance between people and require everyone to wear masks and undergo health screenings before coming to school.

But by April, the district says it believes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will relax the social distancing requirement.

Jeffco Public Schools said the students will attend classes Monday through Thursday and that Friday will be an asynchronous learning day for middle and high school students to meet with teachers, catch up on work and meet with other students.

The district is the latest in the metro area to announce a return to in-person learning for middle and high school students in the coming weeks. Littleton Schools plan to return that group of students on March 15, while the Poudre School District and Thompson School District announced those students would return March 22. The Douglas County School Board will vote next week whether to return secondary students to in-person learning on March 22.

Jeffco Public Schools have been mulling the decision for weeks, but the process has ramped up with the county moving to Level Blue on the state’s COVID-19 response dial.

Younger students in Pre-K-5 classes returned in-person in January, and the district moved grades 6-12 back to a hybrid model shortly afterward.

District principals gathered feedback from staff and school families over the past several weeks on what the next steps should be and met with the superintendent and other officials earlier this week.

“Our principals provided a consensus on a full return to 100% in-person on April 5. They also identified issues in implementing a return to in-person learning, and gave me their assurance that they had consulted with their stakeholders, including school staff and families,” said Interim Superintendent Kristopher Schuh. “This information gathering and feedback process has been extensive and deliberate. We have come to a consensus decision that April 5 is the correct date for a full return of our secondary schools to 100% in-person learning.”

Schuh said in the letter to district families and staff that he knows “not everyone will agree with the decisions made,” which was part of the reason to continue the remote-only classes for those students through the rest of this schoolyear and the next, if students so choose.

He said that “nearly all” staff have been invited to get their first vaccine dose and that he believed most teachers and staff who interact with students will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of March.

But Schuh also warned that there is still virus spread ongoing in the community and that quarantines and outbreaks were still possible, which could lead to a move back to remote learning if buildings need to be cleaned.

“In closing, I know this has been a challenging and unsettling time for everyone. No one has escaped the uncertainty, worry, health concerns, and additional workload this pandemic has put upon us,” Schuh added in his letter. “I do believe we are turning a big corner and seeing hope become reality. The increased availability of the vaccine, the reduction of community spread and hospitalizations, and the slow, but progressive opportunities of being together, will enable us to enjoy life moments which we have so desperately missed over the past year.