Poudre School District middle, high schools to return to full-time, in-person learning

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Poudre School District’s middle schools and high schools will make a full return to in-person learning after spring break.

The long-awaited announcement from the district’s interim superintendent Todd Lambert was made to families at 5 p.m. Thursday. The transition to Phase 4 on March 22 will give secondary students about nine weeks of full-time, in-person learning before the end of the school year. 

Students who are not comfortable returning to the classroom will have the opportunity to continue remote education. PSD said that families should contact their school’s principal for more information regarding that option.

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The decision was made in partnership with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. Two other school districts in the county — Estes Park and Thompson — have announced returns to in-person learning at similar times. 

Safety protocols will remain in effect. Students and staff will be required to wear masks, and PSD will continue enhanced cleaning. It will also focus on ventilation and Lambert wrote that outdoor spaces will be increasingly utilized as weather improves.

Increased vaccinations and testing efforts were a deciding factor in the decision to bring secondary students back full time, Lambert wrote in the announcement. As of Feb. 23, nearly 3,000 PSD employees had registered with UCHealth to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and 70% of those had received the first dose. PSD will also continue its rapid testing site for symptomatic staff, operated at Poudre High School, through the end of the school year.

The district also shared a comparison of case numbers from the first month of this semester — in which middle and high schools were in hybrid learning and elementary was in full-time, in-person learning — with a monthlong period from the fall.

The data showed case numbers for all levels were down by more than 35%. 

“PSD remains committed to helping our students learn and grow, and we know they are at their best when they are in school each day,” wrote Lambert. 

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Molly Bohannon covers education for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @molboha or contact her at mbohannon@coloradoan.com. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.