As I shared in last week’s Our DPS Weekly communication, we are very excited to be planning for a return to full-time in-person learning in the fall. This means students would be able to attend school in person at their assigned school every day for the 2021-22 school year. This is, of course, dependent on health conditions and guidance from our health partners, but we remain optimistic, given the encouraging rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, that our schools will be back to full strength next year.
As we know all too well, there is no substitute for face-to-face instruction. And we’ve seen that, for most students, in-person time spent with friends, teachers and school-support staff results in a much richer learning experience.
This is true for our younger learners in particular, who thrive physically, mentally, socially and emotionally with quality in-person instruction. We believe children learn best from interactive and hands-on experiences with the support of our caring DPS educators — which is why we recommend this option for the majority of our kids.
I’d like to reiterate that we will continue working closely with our community health partners in our preparations for the return to school in the fall. Some of the health protocols we have become accustomed to — wearing a mask, not gathering in large groups — may still be in place, at least to start the year.
That being said, and for a variety of reasons, a segment of our families may want to continue with remote learning next year. To best support these students, we are offering an option to enroll in full-time remote learning for students in grades K-12. (There will only be an in-person option for ECE students.)
Families who would like to enroll their student in the remote learning program for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year should complete the Learning Option Selection form on the Parent Portal between May 10 and June 4. They can also call their current school’s front office to complete a paper form or complete the process over the phone during this window.
While our individual schools and educators did amazing work this year balancing in-person and online instruction, it wasn’t an optimal or sustainable situation. Because of that, we will be offering full-time remote learning next year through a more centralized, consistent approach. For grades 6-12, we will be partnering with Denver Online High School, a long-time DPS school with a track record of success in remote instruction. We are still working out the details for grades K-5, but remote learning for these grades will also feature a single, centralized source, and not provided through a family’s individual school. Remote learning for both elementary and secondary grades will be a combination of live remote instruction and self-paced assignments.
I want to emphasize that families will be making this decision for the 2021-22 school year only. Students at district-run schools will not lose their seat at their currently assigned school if they choose the remote learning option, and will be able to return to in-person learning at their school the following year. (Families whose students attend charter or innovation zone schools are asked to please check their school’s enrollment policy.)
It is also important to note that, in many cases, remote learning may present particular challenges for students with disabilities. For students with IEPs and 504 Plans, the district will need to work with families individually to determine if the remote learning program is the right option for their student.
Families whose students will be returning to full-time in-person learning next year do not need to take any action, and their students will automatically be enrolled in in-person learning at their assigned school.
We know this is a big decision, because we are asking our families to commit to either in-person learning at their school or remote learning for all of the 2021-22 school year. To help support our families during this time, we have put together a special webpage, which includes a detailed FAQ about what next year will look like for both in-person and remote learning. For additional assistance, please call the Family And Community Engagement (FACE) Helpline at 720-423-3054, or email FACEHelpline@dpsk12.org.
As we take another step closer to the end of a trying yet memorable school year, I want to thank you all again for your patience and perseverance. Next school year will come fast, and with it a fresh start, no matter which learning option our families ultimately select.