Douglas County School District eyes return to hybrid learning this month

Middle and high school students have started semester with remote education


The Douglas County School District is still aiming to return its middle and high school students to hybrid learning in January.

The tentative plan outlined during a Jan. 5 school board meeting would mean directors make a final decision during their Jan. 19 board meeting, possibly launching hybrid learning for secondary students by Jan. 25.

Middle and high schools started the second semester with remote learning while elementary students returned to full in-person learning.

Interim Superintendent Corey Wise said recent changes may help the district's odds of continuing to bring back and sustaining in-person learning.

A recent change to quarantine protocols now means people exposed to the virus will need to quarantine for 10 days, instead of 14 as was previously required by the state, Wise said. The district is also working to allow exposed students to return to class after one week if they test negative.

The district learned earlier that day Gov. Jared Polis would be providing area districts with a month's supply of at-home tests, another tool to help the district gather better COVID-19 data, Wise said.

Wise said the district's ability to keep up with pressures on the system, like substitute teacher shortages and quarantine protocols, will continue being key factors in when the district can bring back in-person learning.

So will COVID-19 data points, like the two-week cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 people, which he prefers to be at or below 650 to launch hybrid learning. The rate sat at 384 and was trending downward as of Jan. 5, Wise said.

School board Director Kevin Leung asked the board to consider returning secondary students to in-person learning, five days a week after Presidents Day, Feb. 15.­­ He agreed to wait and take up the conversation on Jan. 19 when Board President David Ray suggested revisiting the idea then.

Board directors stressed during the meeting the district is required to follow guidance put out by the state and local health departments. For weeks and including Jan. 5, public comment was filled with parents urging a return to in-person learning.


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