After previously suspending in-person learning through April 30, Jeffco Public Schools sent out an April 3 letter announcing that school buildings will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
The decision was made with Jefferson County Public Health and 13 other districts in the metro area, with Denver Public Schools, Douglas County Schools, Cherry Creek School District and others making the same announcement April 3.
The Jeffco school district will continue remote instruction and learning through the 2019-2020 school year. Jeffco schols were potentially going to be reopened for in-person education for 14 school days in May.
The final day of the school year is May 22.
“The key factor leading to this decision is guidance from county health officials and the information shared in the governor's announcement that the impact of COVID-19 is likely to peak from mid-April through possibly July,” the district letter said. “This creates a significant safety risk for all of our students, families and staff members.”
The letter included a joint statement from all 14 districts that are closing, which stated that one motivating factor was the belief that large group gatherings could be restricted past the end of the school year.
“What we do know is that once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we will continue to have restrictions on social distancing and the size of group gatherings for at least several weeks, if not months,” the joint statement said. “Given the nature of a school environment … these restrictions are not practical within the school setting.”
For local families like the Hinds family, whose daughter, Cassidy, is a junior at Arvada High School, the announcement was somewhat expected, and the plan to continue remote learning seems manageable.
“Cassidy in general is motivated with school. I don’t know if they’re learning the same amount as they would, but with everything that’s going on, we just have to get through the rest of the school year,” Molly said.
Cassidy agreed that she has been able to adjust to the change, even as it has made it difficult for teachers to communicate as effectively as they otherwise would.
“Some teachers do video calls and others just post the assignments, and some are just setting us free,” she said. “I feel like we’re not getting as much learning so I don’t prefer it necessarily, but I’m okay with the online school.”
In addition to preparing extra online instruction, schools have been figuring out how to ensure students feel connected to their school, even as they will not be returning for the rest of the semester.
“I have teachers who are driving by their students’ houses just to wave hi to them from their cars and others who are dropping off books and materials on their front porches,” said principal Karla Hankins at Mortensen Elementary in Littleton. “We have a teddy bear initiative happening in the neighborhood where people are putting bears in their windows so that kids can go on a bear hunt while they are walking with their parents. We have a very close-knit community, and we will get through this together.”
Jeffco Public Schools has said that it plans to communicate further information, including the status of graduations, events and final exams.
“We are working to determine the answers to these, and other questions, and we will be sharing that information as soon as possible,” the district letter said.
Several private and charter schools across the Jeffco area, including Faith Christian Academy, Golden View Classical Academy and Lincoln Academy previously told Colorado Community Media they planned to follow the state restrictions and district's lead on closing for the semester.
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