Littleton Public Schools closed until at least March 30

District joins wave of closures in response to COVID-19 pandemic


Littleton Public Schools will close for at least two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the district announced March 12.

School was scheduled to be in session through the end of March 13, according to a district news release. The district will reassess the situation on March 29, with plans to reopen on March 30. All district clubs, sports, events and performances are suspended until April 5.

The second week of the closure, March 23-27, was already scheduled as the district's Spring Break.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 in the district, according to the release.

Superintendent Brian Ewert said he decided to close the district after a day of consultation with other superintendents,  state health officials, epidemiologists and Governor Jared Polis. 

"We know it's not overly dangerous to kids, but they can be carriers," Ewert said. "Schools are a hotbed of diseases and viruses. This is our attempt to help flatten out the apex of infection, and give medical professionals a chance to get out in front of this. It's about protecting our most vulnerable neighbors."

The district is currently unable to provide online learning, said school board president Jack Reutzel. 

"We're a brick and mortar establishment," Reutzel said. "We don't have a robust online component like colleges. We can send along materials and point out websites for some subject matter, but we struggle, especially with kindergarten through about second grade. We hope this interruption is minimal."

Staff will provide grab-and-go breakfast and lunch available at East and Field elementaries, which have the highest number of students on free or reduced lunch plans, Ewert said.

"I'm under no illusion this isn't a hardship for parents," Ewert said. "But I don't know what else to do. We have to work to keep people apart. This pandemic will have huge impacts throughout the economy and culture."

Molly Zackary, whose son is in kindergarten, said the LPS closure was going to present a childcare challenge, until she found out her own employer is closing for the next two weeks as well. 

"Now, we're worried about our family's financial security," Zackary said.  "And I'm worried my son will go stir crazy."

Zackary said she has plenty on her mind beyond the school closure, including the wellbeing of her elderly relatives, but she's heartened by the swift community response she's seeing.

"I'm hearing about parents rallying together to help each other out," Zackary said. "That's what will get us through this."

The district joins a cascade of other closures in the Denver metro area and around the country in response to the spread of a strain of coronavirus labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

Ewert said it was unlikely the closure will force schools to stay in session later into the summer, because the state Department of Education is expected to grant widespread waivers for the number of days school must be held.

The closure followed a swift series of escalating measures by the district to address the spread of the illness over the past week: all school-sponsored travel was suspended on March 10, and all events and clubs were suspended earlier on March 12.

The closure follows the cancellation of the Educator Day of Action, a teacher walkout planned by the Colorado Education Association that had been planned for March 19.

Arapahoe Community College, Littleton's other educational institution, also announced a temporary closure on March 12.

Ewert said the widespread closrues are unnerving.

"This is my 34th year in education, and I've never experienced what I did yesterday," he said. "I was a principal on 9/11, and I didn't experience the widespread anxiety I'm feeling and hearing about now. We haven't done this before. We're plowing a new field here."



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