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All grades are in remote learning. Discovery Link is offering remote learning support camps to elementary students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Remote Learning

What is remote learning?

When will DPS shift to remote learning?

Remote learning can happen under two different scenarios:

  • District-wide: There may be times when health conditions in Denver County mean that the safest way to keep students learning is to keep them at home and continue school via remote learning.
  • Targeted: As we gradually begin to bring more grade levels back into classrooms this fall for in-person learning, there likely will be times when a specific student, cohort, and/or school must shift to remote learning, if a quarantine period is recommended by our health partners.

Hybrid Learning

What is the hybrid option?

The hybrid option is a mix of remote and in-person learning. View more information about the hybrid option.

Charter families: Please check with your school directly, as the information above may not apply to your student.

In-Person Learning

What is the latest guidance on in-person learning plans?

Virtual Program

What is the virtual learning option?

How will English Learners be supported in the virtual learning option?

English Learners will continue to have access to MLE (formerly ELA) support services, including dedicated English Language Development and native language Spanish instruction.

How will students with IEP and/or 504 plans be supported in the 100% virtual learning option?

DPS is committed to equity, and this includes services and programs for students with disabilities. We recognize that virtual learning needs to be specialized to fit the individual needs of students, particularly for our students with IEPs. DPS schools will ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities as general education students. Schools will implement the IEP of a student with a disability to the greatest extent possible. Special Education departments nationally and locally recognize that this will be challenging under the circumstances and that compensatory services may be necessary to ensure equity for all students. Please review our Virtual Learning Plan for more information.

All special education students have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which support their grade-level instruction. Any instructional resource will have to be customized to the student’s needs based upon their IEP. The SPED department is using CARES Act funding to purchase instructional resource materials to support student’s access to grade-level instruction while participating in 100% virtual learning. For further questions, please contact sped@dpsk12.org.

SchoolChoice & Enrollment

Can we change our preference for in-person learning or virtual learning option?

Middle and high school families had until Monday, Sept. 28 to make their final selection. Elementary family decisions were due on Friday, Sept. 18. If your family’s situation changes, and you want to change your learning option at your current school during the first semester, please connect with your school leader to find out if the school will be able to accommodate your request.

For more information, please visit the Choice & Enrollment website.

Health Guidance for In-Person Learning

What health experts does DPS consult with?

Our Nursing Services team has an established connection with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE), including epidemiologists and other doctors who guide us regarding infectious disease. We also have an established partnership with Denver Health because of our School Based Health Clinics. Dr. Steven G. Federico is the Director of General Pediatrics / School and Community Programs at Denver Health and Dr. William Burman specializes in infectious disease and partners with Denver Health and DDPHE. We also continue to follow guidance issued by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

Why are different Colorado school districts making different decisions on returning to in-person learning?

Each local health department gives guidance for their specific county. DPS makes decisions based on health conditions in Denver in consultation with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and Denver Health.

What health and safety precautions will schools take when students participate in in-person learning?

Will schools be provided with sufficient hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies?

Will personal protective equipment (PPE) be provided for students and/or staff?

What will happen during safety preparation drills for fires, emergency evacuations, or shelter-in-place? What will happen in the event of a school lockout or lockdown?

While this hasn’t been addressed directly at this time by CDE, districts and schools will continue to respond to general emergencies, including evacuation plans, and crisis intervention. We will plan for safe distancing protocols for fire drills, evacuation, and shelter in place. Staff with crisis intervention training will be identified to assist with behavioral and emotional emergency responses.

How will DPS keep bathrooms clean and sanitized?

Will there be licensed, registered nurses in school buildings at all times?

How will schools maintain physical distance in classrooms?

Will students be able to share materials?

How will students eat meals at school?

Will parents/guardians or other visitors be allowed in school buildings?

COVID-19 Symptoms, Screening, Tests and Quarantining

What will the daily symptom screening process look like?

Is DPS providing access to COVID-19 testing for employees?

DPS is partnering with Denver-based Gary Community Investments to provide access to free COVID-19 testing and support to all DPS employees.

COVIDCheck Colorado is a social-benefit enterprise of Gary Community Investments, and our partnership provides all staff access to fast and accurate COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking, and tools to support public health department contact-tracing efforts. COVID-19 testing, combined with symptom-tracking tools, helps us manage potential outbreaks before they start and quickly provide support to anyone who tests positive for the virus.

What happens if a student or staff member tests positive?

Building Readiness (Ventilation, Heat Issues, etc.)

What has been done to ensure that DPS buildings are ready for staff and students to safely return?

How will we keep DPS buildings clean and sanitized?

What investments have been made into school Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems?

What are the guidelines around opening windows and using fans and portable cooling units?

Will students be allowed to use drinking fountains in schools?

I saw a news story about Legionella in school water systems - what steps has DPS taken to ensure that our water is safe?

Following best practices, preventative measures were implemented for Legionella by ensuring that water was turned on by Operations staff in all DPS building water outlets for at least 30 seconds daily during the Stay-at-Home period when school buildings were not in use.

Early Childhood Education (ECE)

What health and safety measures will be in place with nap mats and other communal classroom items?

Nap mats must be spaced out according to physical distancing guidelines and will be sanitized daily. Each student will be assigned a “blue bag” for storing their blanket and sheet. The ECE department is looking into preparing individual boxes of materials for students to avoid sharing commonly used items like scissors, glue, etc.

Will ECE students be required to wear masks for in-person learning?

Masks will be required for all students over the age of three and all adults when on school grounds. For more information, please view our mask guidance.

Will ECE students be expected to maintain physical distancing?

Classrooms will be reconfigured in order to provide safe physical distancing. Classrooms may be decluttered with the removal of soft/plush toys and wider spaces will be created. Nap mats (which are easily sanitized) may be used for activities to promote some social distancing.

ECE drop-off, pickup and sign-in

Each school will have procedures in place for daily drop off and pickup. Parents will each use a different pen to sign in and pens will be sanitized daily. Students’ temperatures will be taken with a touchless thermometer.

Will ECE students have access to remote learning?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide virtual learning for ECE students at this time.

Special Education

What are the mask guidelines for deaf and hard-of-hearing students who need to see lips to understand/communicate?

The determination on masks will be made case-by-case, based on the individual needs of the students. We are providing multiple options that minimize the spread of COVID-19 to support communication between students who are hearing impaired and their teachers/peers. These options include masks that allow for speech reading, face shields, and plexiglass barriers.

How will DPS accommodate students with IEPs?

Our special education department is currently developing guidelines to support students based on the various groups and needs within special education. This guidance will cover a wide variety of issues and topics such as determining compensatory services, families that choose the Virtual Program (fully remote) option, making up missed evaluations, and how services will be delivered under the current health guidelines. When instructional staff return to work, they will be trained in these guidelines. Families will work with their school-level team to resolve individual concerns.

For students who are typically in both general education and special education classes, what will their schedules look like now?

For most students in DPS, there should not be any significant changes. The decisions will be determined by the school IEP team. Placement in special education and services are unique to the individual students. Once the health guidelines are finalized, then the special education department will develop guides for school team to consider when making individual student decisions regarding their schedule and how services will be delivered.

To what extent will parents/guardians be expected to help implement the IEP at home?

Parents/guardians should not be responsible for delivering services that should be provided by their school based staff. If the contingency plan is not working, you need to let your IEP team know so that you can collaborate on finding a solution.

How can I make sure the individual needs of my student are met, virtually and/or in-person?

Individual needs must be addressed by the child’s IEP team. Parents/guardians have a right to call an IEP meeting at any time to discuss concerns with the child’s IEP or implementation of the IEP. IEP teams are dedicated to creatively problem-solving each situation within health restrictions and school/district policies. In addition, under the Individuals with a Disability Act (IDEA), the team can review a student’s progress to determine if compensatory education should be an option to make up for lost learning.

Will students who receive special education services be a priority for acceptance into a Remote Learning Support Center?

Yes, students in special education will be prioritized for acceptance in Remote Learning Support Centers. Contact your child’s school for more details.

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns about my child’s IEP during remote instruction?

All decisions regarding a child’s special education programs are determined by the child’s IEP team. Start by contacting your child’s case manager at the school to initiate the IEP problem-solving process.

You can find more information about Special Education questions and answers here.

Calendar & Bell Schedules

Will starting the year a week later impact the overall school calendar?

No. At this time, our school calendar has not been impacted by the delayed start. Check out our school calendar here for reference.

Transportation

Health screening before boarding bus

Process for +Pass

Bus boarding and exiting protocols

At the bus stop:

  • Please make sure your student adheres to these bus stop rules, which are important to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • While students are waiting to board the bus, they will need to remain six feet apart, unless they are siblings who live together.  Students are required to wear their masks at the bus stop.

Boarding the bus:

  • Students will board the bus in a slow, orderly fashion.
  • Students will wait in line six feet apart until it is time to board the bus.
  • The driver will signal to the student when it is safe to board the bus.
  • When it is time for students to board, they will scan their +Pass and will head to their seat.
  • The bus will be seated back to front. This means students will board and then will take a seat as far back as possible. Each student will have their own seat. The only exception to this rule will be siblings who live together. They will be allowed to share a seat.
  • While on the bus, students, staff, and drivers will be required to wear their masks for the duration of the ride.

Exiting the bus:

  • Students will exit the bus in a calm, orderly manner.
  • The driver will dismiss students in the front of the bus first, going row by row until the bus is empty. This will help keep students from passing each other as they exit.
  • Students will stay in their seats until the driver tells them it is their turn to exit.
  • Students will scan their +Pass as they exit the bus.
  • Students will remain six feet apart while exiting the bus.
  • Students must continue to wear their mask as they exit the bus.

Bus schedules

In order to accommodate as many students as we can, we will pick up students in three waves in the morning and afternoon. Bus information will be available for parents as soon as possible in Infinite Campus and the Parent Portal.

What transportation will be provided?

Due to COVID-19 restraints, our buses will only have a 33% capacity. Because we will be transporting fewer students this fall, we will be changing eligibility standards, which may be viewed here.

Decision on ECE-2 In-Person, 3-5 Remote

Why are third- through fifth-graders being moved to remote learning?

The decision to shift to remote learning for students in grades 3-5 was directly from the advice of Denver Health.

And it was a direct result of our three “stoplight” indicators showing high levels of community spread and trending in the wrong direction.

  • These are three data points we get directly from Denver Health, on the advice of the epidemiologists and pediatricians we partner with, to show our educators and the community what the COVID conditions in the community are and to inform our decisions on offering in-person school safely.

While we’re seeing that in-school transmission is very low, the disruptions being brought in from community spread, which is high, are causing quarantines and operational closures. And that is proving even more of a roller coaster of unplanned closures and classrooms being sent home on short notice.

Collectively, the most important thing we can do to get where we all want to be: schools open for in-person learning for all students, is to adhere to the public-health orders and restrictions, get the COVID-19 numbers down, and make it safe to resume in-person learning for more students.

Why are schools staying open for ECE-2nd-graders?

Our youngest students struggle the most with remote learning. These are our developing readers, and in-person support is absolutely critical to ensuring they are getting a solid foundation for their education. The COVID-19 risks for students in the early-elementary grades are very low, according to our health partners.

We’re also seeing that in-person conditions for these students are low risk. ECE-second grade active cases for students are .14% and under 1% for staff. 

  • These are numbers specifically for students and staff participating in in-person learning for ECE-second grade. The numbers on our DPS COVID-19 conditions website are different because they are for ALL students and staff, both in-person and remote.

Why are grades 6-12 staying in remote learning through the end of the semester?

Moving into remote for the remainder of the semester will allow our middle school and high school teachers and students to focus on quality remote learning. Health conditions are unlikely to improve enough before the end of the semester to allow for safe, in-person schooling in our middle and high schools.

What are “Center” programs staying open for in-person learning?

Newcomer Centers, Remote-Learning Support Centers, and Special Education Center programs will also continue to offer full-time, in-person learning for all grades through the end of the first semester. Students in our centers are some of the highest-need students, and in-person support is essential for these students to meaningfully engage in their learning. 

We are able to safely offer in-person learning for our center-based programs because our schools will not have general education students above 2nd grade attending in-person learning. This provides more physical space for social distancing and allows us to concentrate our resources (such as personal protective equipment) to a smaller group of staff in buildings.

Other districts have figured out how to offer in-person learning. Why hasn’t DPS?

COVID-19 conditions differ across the metro area. The virus is disproportionately affecting LatinX and African-American families in particular. Our decisions are focused on the conditions and risks in our community and how the virus is affecting our families and our educators. There are neighborhoods in Denver with alarming infection rates. Other area school districts with demographics similar to Denver have made the decision to go fully remote at all grades.

We are frustrated by the uncertainties and the changes. We want our schools open. We must ensure our decisions are informed by health data, analysis and advice from Denver Health experts, and collaboration with our Board of Education, our principals, and our teachers.

Why aren’t you listening to voices in the community who want in-person learning?

We have worked hard to understand the perspectives of families and educators across Denver in trying to strike the right balance in prioritizing health and safety and maximizing in-person instruction. 

All families had the option to enroll in either the Virtual Program of 100% remote learning or in-person school when it’s available. A significant number of our families, especially African American and LatinX families, enrolled in remote learning. And this was before the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Ethnic/racial breakdown of 1st-semester enrollment (decision made mid-September; data for district-managed schools)

Virtual Program Selection for District-Managed Schools by Race / Ethnicity

  Elementary School
(K-5)
Elementary School
(K-5)
Middle School
(6-8)
Middle School
(6-8)
High School
(9-13)
High School
(9-13)
In-person Virtual In-person Virtual In-person Virtual
Total by Grade/Program 19,322 9,949 5,457 3,914 9,636 8,745
Total by Grade/Program 66% 34% 58% 42% 52% 48%
American Indian
or Alaskan Native
56% 44% 45% 55% 52% 48%
Asian 66% 34% 52% 48% 48% 51%
Black (not Hispanic) 55% 45% 51% 49% 46% 54%
Hispanic 60% 40% 53% 47% 48% 52%
Multiple races 68% 32% 59% 41% 56% 44%
Native Hawaiian or
Other Pacific Islander
54% 46% 43% 57% 41% 59%
White (not Hispanic) 80% 20% 74% 26% 65% 35%

We also have worked very collaboratively with our educators. School leaders and DCTA leadership are a part of all decision-making meetings. 

It is essential that we listen to and are responsive to the feedback, ideas, and concerns of the educators who work with our students every day. In the middle of a global pandemic, it’s understandable that our educators would have serious concerns about the health risks of in-person schooling. Those concerns have been shared with the community (Chalkbeat story “Most Denver teachers and principals think in-person learning is unsafe, union surveys show”), and they need to be a major consideration in our decision-making process.

My child struggles with remote learning. What are you doing to make it better?

We are more prepared than ever to deliver strong remote instruction, based on changes we’ve made with feedback from students, families, and staff from surveys throughout the pandemic. We will continue to make sure each class is set up as well as possible for remote learning, and that students and families can access the support they need. We’ve been focused on the following improvements:

  • Strengthening teacher-student relationships through live daily instruction that requires less at-home adult assistance. 
  • Supporting families with consistent expectations for attendance, instruction, and grading across grade levels and schools. 
  • Simplifying technology for students and families at district-run schools by using consistent learning management systems — Seesaw for K-5th grades and Schoology for 6-12th grades.
  • Ensure we are reaching all students by closing the gaps in internet and device access, providing tech support opportunities and tutorials in multiple languages.
  • Ensuring students continue to receive special education services outlined by their Individual Education Program (IEP) during remote learning. School teams and parents will collaboratively develop plans to ensure that the student receives a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  • Ensuring students learning English continue to receive English language development services during remote learning.

What are working families supposed to do about childcare on such short notice?

We’re keeping in-person for grades 3-5 open this whole week to allow for more time for families to prepare for the shift to remote. And we’re working with community partners to look for ways to create more child-care options.

Where is the concern for how this is affecting children's social and emotional health?

The social and emotional health of our students is also a major concern. Remote learning curriculum sets aside time for SEL support, and we also want to make sure that we’re prioritizing everyone’s physical health. Dr. Steven Federico, Denver Health’s lead pediatrician, this week emphasized that the most important thing we can do for our children’s overall well-being is to strictly adhere to the public-health orders and restrictions, get the COVID-19 numbers down, and make it safe to resume in-person learning for more students.

Has DPS considered opening with a hybrid model?

We’ve looked at all potential options for offering in-person learning, and a hybrid model that combines remote and in-person instruction is still being considered. Right now, given the current spike in COVID-19 rates, we feel that remote learning for all but our youngest learners and high-priority students is the best course of action.

Why aren't you letting principals make their own decisions based on what their community wants and what their school needs?

Through this crisis, it’s been clearer than ever that a school’s individual context matters so much in terms of the plans they have built in alignment with our health and safety protocols. This is why schools have been able to build their own schedules and develop strategies that work for them. As we have seen COVID-19 numbers rise in our community, we have decided to scale back in-person instruction in response to the rising COVID-19 cases but still keep our elementary schools open for our youngest learners. It’s important that we take these measures as a district in order to provide equitable access to education across our schools, knowing that we are already seeing disproportionalities. 

We know there are unique circumstances in different schools that require us to be nimble and work with individual schools based on their needs, and we are doing that on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, our charter schools, as autonomous schools, have additional flexibility in terms of how they choose to follow district guidance.

Virtual Program Selection for District-Managed Schools by Race / Ethnicity

 Elementary School
(K-5)
Elementary School
(K-5)
Middle School
(6-8)
Middle School
(6-8)
High School
(9-13)
High School
(9-13)
In-personVirtualIn-personVirtualIn-personVirtual
Total by Grade/Program19,3229,9495,4573,9149,6368,745
Total by Grade/Program66%34%58%42%52%48%
American Indian
or Alaskan Native
56%44%45%55%52%48%
Asian66%34%52%48%48%51%
Black (not Hispanic)55%45%51%49%46%54%
Hispanic60%40%53%47%48%52%
Multiple races68%32%59%41%56%44%
Native Hawaiian or
Other Pacific Islander
54%46%43%57%41%59%
White (not Hispanic)80%20%74%26%65%35%

COVID-19 Case Rate per 1,000 persons by Denver Neighborhood