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Denver students set to return to classrooms in January

Girl wearing a mask works on her laptop at a learning center.

Denver plans to bring students back into classrooms in January.

David Zalubowski / AP

After a fall spent totally or partly online, Denver elementary students will return to the classroom Jan. 11, and secondary students will be back in the classroom by Feb. 1 if health conditions allow it, Superintendent Susana Cordova told families Tuesday.

Cordova said the district would continue to work with public health officials to monitor changing COVID-19 conditions and “will adjust our January return plans if needed.” 

The schedule calls for students to continue learning at home from Jan. 5 to 8, with all elementary students returning to the classroom Jan. 11. Secondary schools will develop their own schedules and gradually bring students back to the classroom between Jan. 19 and 29. 

All students whose parents want them in school will be in class by Feb. 1, the email said. The district will continue to offer fully virtual learning for families who prefer it.

“We believe this timeline prioritizes students who need in-person learning most, while also giving schools the opportunity to plan and prepare for a full-scale return to in-person learning,” Cordova wrote.

Smaller secondary schools may be able to offer in-person learning five days a week, while larger schools more likely will offer a hybrid schedule to keep class sizes small.

“This is based on the latest guidelines from our health partners on how many students can be in the same group, or cohort,” Cordova wrote.

Most Colorado students are learning from home now, as school districts around the state have switched to remote learning in the face of rising COVID cases and the logistical challenges they’ve brought. 

But Denver, Colorado’s largest school district, has changed plans more than most districts over the course of the summer and fall, leaving many parents frustrated. Most secondary students haven’t been in school at all this school year, and many older elementary students had just a few days of in-person learning before the district sent them back home. 

The district has been entirely remote since Nov. 30.

Cordova plans to leave for a new job in Dallas, with interim superintendent Dwight Jones taking over Jan. 1. Jones will be responsible for overseeing the return to the classroom.

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