After the APS Board of Education meeting earlier this week, I would like to update you on where we are with our plans for the second semester. Board members voiced strong support for a return to in-person learning for all students in grades Preschool through 12. It is currently our intent to return to in-person learning for the second semester through a hybrid model. The hybrid model allows for a phased-in approach as recommended by public health officials.
The hybrid model divides students into two groups “A” and “B”. One group attends school in person on designated “A” weeks (Monday-Thursday). The other group attends school in person on designated “B” weeks (Monday-Thursday). Fridays will remain remote learning days districtwide, so all students will learn remotely from home on Fridays. Please know there is absolutely no difference between the “A” and “B” groups other than the weeks that students are assigned to attend. Once again, during the weeks that students are not attending school in person, they will be learning remotely from home. Preschool students will NOT be divided into two groups and will attend school every week on Mondays-Thursdays. Please know that if you prefer to have your student learn fully remotely from home and not attend school in person, you can continue to make that selection for your child.
We will continue to evaluate data and plan a return to in-person learning over the next few weeks. We will confirm our plans by Monday, Jan. 4. We have strong operational and mitigation plans in place and we intend to return to school in person as long as health data do not negatively impact our ability to implement our plans.
A return to in-person learning means that all staff would be expected to report to work in person at our schools starting on Jan. 11. Of course, this excludes staff members with medical exemptions. The week of Jan. 11 would remain a remote learning week for students, so that staff would have time to plan and prepare for a return to in-person learning. We would ask students from the “A” group along with all preschool students to begin in-person learning on Jan. 19. “B” group students would begin on Jan. 25.
I want to emphasize that we all have a shared responsibility to keep ourselves, our families, co-workers and community safe. Over the Winter Break, it will be tempting to meet with family members and friends outside of your household. However, in accordance with public health guidance and in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, please do not attend or host any in-person social gatherings. Instead, meet with family and friends virtually. In addition, please continue to wear masks or face coverings anytime you are in public, social distance from others outside of your household (staying six feet away including from family and friends) and wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
In preparation for a potential return to in-person learning, we ask that you let your child’s school know if you would like to change the learning mode selection that you made previously for your child this school year (in-person learning at school or fully remote learning at home). If you would like to change your selection, please let your child’s school know as soon as possible. The deadline to change your selection to in-person learning will be Jan. 4. Parents can change to fully remote learning at any time throughout the school year.
We continue to explore childcare options for school-age children (Kindergarten-8th grade) for the weeks that students are learning remotely. We plan to share information about those options provided by community partners in early January. Please note families will be responsible for their own transportation to any offsite locations and that there may be a cost for the childcare options. In addition, priority will first be given to APS staff and then to APS families.
I want to assure you that the health and safety of our students and staff remains our top priority. A helpful new resource to review that was released earlier this week is the Metro Denver Partnership for Health’s updated guidance for schools. Health officials share that “Re-opening schools for in-person learning is a public health priority in the Denver metro area.” Some key updates include:
- Schools can prevent transmission, even when community rates are high: “Thus far, there is insufficient evidence to define a threshold for the level of community transmission that increases in school transmission risk.”
- Schools are not the primary drivers of community transmission: “While no social interaction can be completely risk-free, especially with high levels of community transmission, schools’ consistent implementation of disease mitigation strategies reduce transmission risk among adults in school settings and provide protection for faculty and staff as students return to in-person learning.”
We will continue to share information as quickly as possible to ensure our students, staff and families are prepared to transition between learning modes, if needed. For up-to-date information, visit aurorak12.org and stay connected with us by following APS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I hope all of you have an opportunity to relax, reflect and regroup during Winter Break. We look forward to welcoming our students back to in-person learning in the new year!
- Superintendent Rico Munn