As we head into the final month of what has been an extremely challenging school year, our top priority is finishing on a safe and positive note. At the same time, we are very excited to envision a semblance of normalcy in the fall, and are working hard now to make that a reality for the DPS community.
Currently, as the number of vaccinations increases and the state scales back some of its COVID protocols, we will continue to work with our health partners to keep the community informed of any changes to our health guidance and practices.
At this time, we don’t anticipate substantial changes to our classrooms and schools for the end of the 2020-21 school year, as many of our policies around physical distancing and accommodations for individuals who are at risk of severe illness from COVID are still in place.
Since not all students are eligible for the vaccine and we are not requiring students to become vaccinated, we are not making differentiated policies based on those who are and are not vaccinated.
Which brings me to next school year, and how thrilled I am to see a future where the in-person experience for our students will look much more like it did prior to the pandemic.
I’m pleased to announce that we’ll soon be sharing detailed plans for a full return to in-person learning for all students in all grades for 2021-22. I’m so optimistic that classrooms will look a lot more like what our students and families are used to. I’m also very happy to share that we are planning for a return to normal transportation operations.
Of course, some health protocols may still be in place to start the year, including wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings, and more information will be shared over the summer. However, these are small sacrifices if it means all our students have the opportunity to walk through the front doors of their schools every day. We know there is no substitute for in-person learning, and we’ve seen that for most students, face-to-face time spent with teachers, peers and school-support staff results in a more engaging, successful learning experience.
For families who are interested in continuing with remote learning for the full 2021-22 school year, we are currently finalizing plans for next year’s online learning offerings, which include a centralized option (not provided through a family’s current school) for students in K-5 and in 6-12. Students will learn through a combination of live instruction and self-paced assignments. We will be sharing information very soon about how families can opt in to remote learning for next year.
I can’t thank our families and educators enough for their Herculean efforts this entire school year. It has been an experience we will remember forever, both for its trials and achievements. But we are looking forward to another, more memorable experience — one that our families and students deserve more than anything: the hope and promise of the first day of school in August.