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APS to Transition to Remote Learning Starting Oct. 26 Except for Preschool, Kindergarten and Students with Specialized Learning Needs

As we continue to review our decision matrix, we are still below our internal criteria for implementing social distancing learning. Social distancing learning is the hybrid model that we started on Monday, October 12 for the second quarter for students in grades 1-8.

Community transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase at a concerning rate. During a special Board meeting on Oct. 22, the APS Board of Education provided direction to transition most students in grades 1-8 back to fully remote learning. This is the model that we operated in for the first quarter of this school year. This transition back to fully remote learning for most students in grades 1-8 will start on Monday, October 26. 

We will continue to evaluate data and make our next decision by Monday, November 9. If we transition to a different learning model, the transition for high school students would happen on Monday, November 16. For students in grades 1-8, the transition would happen after the Thanksgiving holiday.

We recognize that our students with specialized learning still need as much in-person instruction as possible. As such, the following groups of students will continue with in-person learning as they did during the first quarter. This includes the following groups of students: 

  • Preschool and Kindergarten students
  • Students with special needs on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) who require in-person learning
  • Newcomer students who are in the early stages of English language development
  • Career and Technical Education students at Pickens Technical College  

Transportation will be available for these groups as it was during the first quarter.

Most schools will be maintaining remote learning schedules similar to the first quarter. If you have specific questions about your child’s remote learning schedule or need access to any materials to engage in remote learning, please reach out to school staff.

We will continue to review health data and our Decision Matrix regularly. If we need to transition to another learning model, we will communicate that as quickly as possible.

 

APS Decision Matrix

Part of our planning for back to school, whether in person or remotely, has included creating a decision matrix that is multi-dimensional with 9 indicators. It relies heavily upon public health measures that are available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and/or Tri-County Health Department websites. As you can see from this Board presentation, the matrix was revised after sharing an initial draft with Tri-County and the Aurora Education Association.

The matrix was approved by the APS Board of Education during their meeting on Sept. 1. It is NOT a health tool that indicates safe ranges, but rather a decision-making tool that authorizes the Superintendent to implement a model (e.g. hybrid, cohort, remote) aligned with the matrix, recognizing that various phases will be determined based on ongoing review of implementation. Please note that the APS Board of Education may choose to authorize a different model that is out of the Superintendent's range of authority in accordance with the decision matrix. 

Our decision matrix considers health data specific to our community and school and district conditions including the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies and staff COVID-19 testing. It also takes measures such as student attendance into consideration. For example, low attendance would indicate that students may need a greater level of engagement through in-person learning.

APS is committed to providing as much in-person learning as is safely possible. We will continue to make decisions based on the evolving science and data that is available to us. The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and community is our top priority.

Revised District Calendar: APS to Transition to Remote Learning Beginning Oct. 26 Except for Preschool, Kindergarten and Students with Specialized Learning Needs

Due to an increase of COVID-19 cases in the community, the APS Board of Education decided to transition most students in grades 1-8 back to fully remote learning beginning Monday, Oct. 26.

The APS Board of Education approved a revised calendar for the 2020-21 school year with new start dates and other changes. You will notice that instead of the previously scheduled Fall Break, students and staff will have the entire week of Thanksgiving off. In addition, Winter Break has been extended by an additional week in January. There are other calendar changes throughout the school year, so please review the calendar thoroughly.

Student Schedules during Remote Learning

During the Remote Learning model, students will take part in live classes from home. This means students will sign on and learn in real-time from teachers through video on their laptops (synchronously).

In addition to live learning, students will also be asked to watch lessons and complete assignments as they learn on their own time (asynchronously). Both of these remote learning modes (synchronous and asynchronous) will be used and teachers will be regularly checking in to support students.

On Mondays through Thursdays, students will be learning synchronously and asynchronously. On Fridays, students will mostly be learning independently on their own (asynchronously) to provide teachers and school staff with additional time for training, data analysis and planning.

Please view some sample daily schedules for students in grades Preschool-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. As an example of what a schedule for each grade band might look like, please take a look at slides 10-13. Please contact school staff if you have specific questions about your student’s schedule.

We are also bringing small groups of students into schools for in-person specialized instruction. Schools will work with families to accommodate this need.

As a reminder, school staff will be working with families of children with special needs who are on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan to determine how services will be provided. Students who are English Language Learners will continue to receive additional language development support.

Proposed Student Schedules for In-Person Learning

Aurora Public Schools has developed in-person learning through a hybrid model that was implemented for grades 1-8 from Oct. 12 through Oct. 23. A hybrid model means that students learn both in-person and remotely. If we return to in-person learning, this hybrid model may be implemented again.

School and district staff will continue to prepare for a safe return to in-person learning and we are confident that all of our planning will facilitate a safe and smooth transition. Please know that we have strong health and safety precautions in place at all of our schools that will work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.

If we return to in-person learning, in order to implement the hybrid model, all APS schools are dividing their students into two groups. One group will attend school in person on designated “A” weeks (Monday-Thursday). The other group will attend 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. Please see this calendar that shows how hybrid learning will work. 

 

Mental Health Supports for Students
As reflected in the sample schedules, social-emotional learning will be a key component of remote learning. In addition, all students will continue to have remote access to mental health resources including APS psychologists, social workers, counselors and other school staff. The health and wellbeing of our students is our top priority. Click here for more information on APS mental health resources and supports.

Temporary Attendance Policy

To address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandates to educate children, the Board of Education implements the following temporary attendance protocols for the 2020-2021 school year.

Photo by Phil Roeder, flickr

Athletics & Activities

Latest Update on Fall Sports in APS

As many of you may have heard through media reports, there has been growing interest and pressure to reopen high school football and start a fall season next week. Some districts have opted to play in a Season “A” and will start practicing next week. However, we have made the decision that as a district, all of our football teams and sideline spirit (cheerleading) squads will be playing in Season “C”, which starts in the spring of 2021. 

Since the revised Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) 2020-21 sports schedule was announced last month, our football teams and spirit squads had been planning and looking forward to the spring season. We are confident that the work of our students and coaches will allow for a strong and competitive experience for everyone, including the opportunity to compete for a championship against many of our traditional rivals. As such, we will continue to support and encourage all of our schools to participate in Season C.

APS and CHSAA Approves High School Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys Golf, Boys Tennis and Softball for Fall Season

In accordance with guidance from the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), APS has approved high school boys and girls cross country, boys golf, boys tennis and softball for the fall season. Other traditional fall sports are unable to be played under current state health guidelines. These include football, gymnastics, boys soccer, spirit, unified bowling and girls volleyball. CHSAA recently released its full 2020-21 calendar. The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. As such, all teams must continue to adhere to the protocols outlined by CHSAA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and APS with symptom and temperature checks, cohort tracing and positive case management procedures. Please read the health guidelines and protocols to participate in APS athletics for the 2020-21 school year.

APS Cancels Athletics for Grades 6-8 for the 2020-21 School Year

Due to strict social distancing requirements and the lack of district transportation options, APS made the difficult decision to cancel all middle school and P-8 fall and winter athletics for the 2020-21 school year. This includes boys and girls track, girls soccer and co-ed wrestling. Please know this was an extremely difficult decision to make. However, students will have opportunities to participate in select after-school activities and clubs remotely.

FREE Grab-and-Go Meal Distribution at 47 Sites

During remote learning, families will be able to pick up meals at any of our 47 districtwide drive-through grab-and-go school locations. There will be a pickup time from 10:45-11:30 a.m. at these 47 schools. There will also be an evening drive-through grab-and-go from 4:45-5:30 p.m. at APS’ five comprehensive high schools. If you have children who attend multiple schools, you will only need to drive to one location to pick up meals.

Thanks to federal funding extensions and generous donations from our community, we are pleased to announce that we will continue to serve free meals to all kids under the age of 18, as well as adults. 

Also, it is critical for every APS family to complete a free and reduced lunch application. These applications help much more than just the district’s meal program. Free and reduced lunch applications are also used to determine additional funding that schools receive, including federal Title funding and state-funded at-risk allocations. Please help support your child’s school by filling out this application as soon as possible.


Transportation

If we transition to in-person learning, we will be sharing more detailed information about transportation in the coming weeks.

Internet Access

FREE Internet Access
Low-income families can sign up for 60 days of FREE Comcast Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to qualified households for $9.95 per month.

  • Comcast is also increasing internet speeds for all existing customers who have Internet Essentials.
  • To sign up, applicants can simply visit internetessentials.com. The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. There are also two dedicated phone numbers: 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
  • View the flyer.

Lifeline Services from CenturyLink: On a limited income? You can save money with Lifeline services from CenturyLink. This government assistance program can help you save on your monthly local phone service or qualifying broadband service. Lifeline provides a discount of $9.25 on monthly service for qualified subscribers. For information on Lifeline discounts for broadband service view the CenturyLink Lifeline Overview.

Free Public Hotspots: In addition, you can access the internet through Comcast public hotspots for free.  Follow this link https://wifi.xfinity.com/ to locate a Comcast hotspot near you.  Once near a hotspot, connect to “xfinitywifi”

Fully Remote Learning at Home

After implementing remote learning access this spring, we will be shifting to provide more rigorous, engaging and standard-based learning for students this fall. Students will have opportunities to take part in live classes from home. This means students will sign on and learn in real-time from teachers through video on their laptops. For example, a student may be assigned to sign on from 8-9 a.m. for their English class and then 9:15-10:15 for their math class.

In addition to live learning, students will also be asked to watch lessons and learn on their own time. Both of these remote learning modes will be used and teachers will be regularly checking in to support students.

We may also be able to bring in small groups of students into schools for specialized instruction. Schools will work with families to accommodate this need.

Please know that we have a strong plan in place for APS teachers to receive specialized training and coaching to provide rigorous remote learning that supports students academically and socially-emotionally. More than 1,000 teachers have already engaged in training opportunities over the summer and we are thankful to have such dedicated teachers in APS.

School staff will be working with families of children with special needs who are on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan to determine how services will be provided. Students who are English Language Learners will continue to receive additional language development support.

All students will have access to mental health resources including APS psychologists, social workers, counselors and other school staff. The health and wellbeing of our students is our top priority.

FREE Internet Access
Low-income families can sign up for 60 days of FREE Comcast Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to qualified households for $9.95 per month.

  • Comcast is also increasing internet speeds for all existing customers who have Internet Essentials.
  • To sign up, applicants can simply visit internetessentials.com. The accessible website also includes the option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. There are also two dedicated phone numbers: 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.
  • View the flyer.

Lifeline Services from CenturyLink: On a limited income? You can save money with Lifeline services from CenturyLink. This government assistance program can help you save on your monthly local phone service or qualifying broadband service. Lifeline provides a discount of $9.25 on monthly service for qualified subscribers. For information on Lifeline discounts for broadband service view the CenturyLink Lifeline Overview.

Free Public Hotspots: In addition, you can access the internet through Comcast public hotspots for free.  Follow this link https://wifi.xfinity.com/ to locate a Comcast hotspot near you.  Once near a hotspot, connect to “xfinitywifi”nt

Health Guidelines at Schools

If we return to in-person learning at a later date, face masks, coverings or face shields will be required for all students and staff while in school. Accommodations will be made for individuals who have trouble breathing or other medical concerns that would be affected by wearing a mask.

We would also need to limit movement within buildings and restrict interaction between cohort groups if we return to in-person learning. This means that meals will likely be served in classrooms rather than having students transition to cafeterias. In addition, we would have increased signage throughout our schools about social distancing and frequent hand washing.

We would also be deep cleaning our buildings regularly and monitoring for symptoms in order to quickly isolate anybody who may be showing symptoms. Our nurses will continue to play a key role in providing information and sharing best practices with APS staff, both during fully remote learning and when we return to in-person learning.

Small groups of students with specialized learning needs will be provided in-person learning opportunities. To view the health guidance for in-person learning, click the button below.

COVID-19 Testing for APS Staff
The APS Board of Education approved an agreement with COVIDCheck Colorado, a social benefit enterprise of the Gary Community Investments Company on Friday. Thanks to this new partnership, APS will be covering all costs for staff to have regular testing for COVID-19 starting in August. COVIDCheck Colorado complements organizations’ strategies to reopen by providing access to accurate and affordable COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and contact tracing tools to help Coloradans safely return to school, work and daily life.

Regular testing, masks, social distancing, meals in classrooms and sanitizing our facilities are just some of the many ways that we are planning if we transition to in-person learning. We will keep you informed here of the many health and safety precautions that we are putting in place informed by local and national experts.

COVID-19 Tracking

As cases of COVID-19 are confirmed positive and when exposure is confirmed, Aurora Public Schools will continue to keep this information updated on our website. Please see the information below that details current COVID-19 tracking. In accordance with the Tri-County Health Department's guidelines for return to work and school, we will remove a case from the tracker below once it has been resolved.

The COVID-19 tracker tracks real-time cases in which there has been potential exposure to other students and/or staff. It is a transparent way to let our community know about current cases that require students and/or staff to take necessary and important health precautions (e.g. quarantining). If a positive case does not impact any other students and/or staff (because the individual was at home), it is considered personal health information and is not shared on the tracker. However, our Health Services Department does share information about all positive cases with the Tri-County Health Department.

If you do not see COVID-19 tracking data below, you can view it in a separate window here.

We have created an email address to respond to specific concerns related to the district’s COVID-19 response. If you have concerns about current health guidelines or protocols that are in place, please send an email to covid19@aurorak12.org. Please know that we will work to respond within three business days or as quickly as possible. This email address was created to respond quickly and directly to individuals who share concerns. As such, we cannot respond to anonymous emails or those that do not include any specific information. 

If you would like to report a non-COVID-19 concern about a threat to student or staff safety, please contact Safe2Tell. Callers may remain anonymous. The number is 1-877-542-SAFE (1-877-542-7233).