Dear DPS Community,
I am so pleased to share more good news with you on the vaccine front. By the end of next week, all DPS team members who want a vaccine will be able to get one, which means they should be getting their second dose before we hit spring break on March 29!
Despite the weather and other vaccine-supply disruptions across the country, over the past 10 days we have been fortunate to have such incredible partners in Gov. Jared Polis and his team, as well as the teams from Children’s Hospital Colorado and Denver Health. They have all gone out of their way to ensure that educators would not experience a delay in getting their vaccines, and we are tremendously thankful for their work to support Team DPS.
It’s still as important as ever to keep following our health protocols — particularly wearing masks and keeping physical distance. But as case numbers, positivity rates, and hospitalization rates decrease — and vaccinations increase — we are beginning to discuss opportunities to offer more in-person learning in our middle and high schools. (Watch this video with doctors from Denver Health, who share the latest updates on our COVID Dashboard.)
In doing so, we remain committed to prioritizing health and safety and following the guidance of our health partners. We also will continue to meet regularly with union leadership. Since the start of the pandemic, the input of our educators and school leaders has been absolutely critical in ensuring we’re creating the best plan. There have been many difficult decisions and hard conversations, and I appreciate the candor and advocacy that DCTA and DSLA leaders have brought to each discussion.
Our focus now is on looking for ways to have more students in classes together over the course of a school day by adjusting our cohort guidelines. Keeping students and staff in set groups has been a primary part of our strategy to minimize disruptions to each school community: cohorts allow us to quickly and effectively quarantine individuals who have been in close contact if one person tests positive for COVID-19. Once our educators are fully vaccinated (two weeks after their second dose), they will no longer need to quarantine in the event of an exposure, further reducing the staffing strain on our schools. As long as our students and staff continue to follow our health protocols for mask wearing and physical distancing, health experts assure us that there is no increased risk to having more students meeting each day.
We’re considering this shift because we know how important it is to have our students learning in person. There are many factors that go into this decision and how we could implement a change, including the need to continue to:
- Honor staff accommodations in alignment with the public health order.
- Provide a high-quality remote learning experience for students who have chosen that option.
- Minimize the risk of disruption.
- Follow the DPS 5, and be sure to maintain 3 feet of distance between educators and students in our classrooms and buildings.
Again, ensuring the health and safety of our community is the overriding priority in all of these discussions, and we will continue to provide updates as decisions are made about offering more in-person learning in middle and high schools. I’m hopeful that we can go into the final months of this very challenging school year with our middle and high schools operating at as close to full strength as possible. And I very much appreciate the patience and understanding of our community in supporting our students and educators.