More than a dozen Denver metro area school districts, including the Douglas County School District, jointly announced April 3 they will remain closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.
On April 1, Gov. Jared Polis extended statewide school closures through at least April 30 as a stay-at-home order remained in place through April 11, although that is expected to be extended.
A letter signed by 14 Denver metro area school districts said even once stay-at-home orders are lifted, social distancing measures and limited group gatherings are anticipated to stay in place for weeks or months, and that Colorado is still approaching the virus' peak within the state.
“Given the nature of a school environment (classrooms, passing periods, buses, playgrounds, etc.) these restrictions are not practical within the school setting,” the letter states. “As such, there does not appear to be a viable way for us to convene traditional in-person learning this school year.”
The letter states guidance from local health departments played a significant role in the superintendents collectively deciding to stay closed. COVID-19 will likely peak in late April in Colorado, according to numerous models, the letter states.
Making a concrete decision on whether or not to resume in-person learning will allow districts to “focus our energy and attention” toward questions and concerns and end the uncertainty around school resuming.
In an email to the DCSD community provided to Colorado Community Media, DCSD Superintendent Thomas Tucker said he participated in a call with the governor, Colorado Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes and other area districts the morning of April 3.
“During that call, Governor Polis acknowledged that having students continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year eliminates yet another transition for our students,” Tucker wrote.
Tucker called it a difficult decision but said he feels it is best for the school community.
“This is an unprecedented situation we find ourselves in and I encourage you and your loved ones to continue following the advice and guidance of healthcare professionals,” Tucker said.
Douglas County School District teachers have been preparing for this possibility as they began transitioning to remote education on March 23.
Sam Kurucz, a social studies teacher at Highlands Ranch High School, said he and other teachers at his school are unhappy and worried “about what this means for the quality of instruction and education for the rest of the year.”
“We would strongly prefer to return to school but understand why the decision is made," he said. "This only makes things more difficult going forward."
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