Denver metro area school districts are starting to plan for the 2020-2021 school year, which means considering the possibility that schools could remain closed.
Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker addressed the issue in a virtual town hall Thursday night.
“We are looking at the possibility of continuing remote learning in the fall,” he said. “We hope not, but at the same time we have to be prepared if that does happen.”
Tucker said much will depend on what happens over the next month, as the state lifts the stay-at-home order and some businesses return to in-person operations. Many metro area school districts are making plans for in-person graduation ceremonies later this summer. But districts say they’ll be waiting for guidance from the state and health officials to finalize summer and fall school plans.
If schools remain closed for any portion of the 2020-2021 school year, officials are concerned about some students falling further behind.
“We’re not going to deny it — remote learning presents challenges that in-person learning does not,” said Jennifer Bacon, a director on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. “It does exacerbate some of the cracks, it does exacerbate some of the inequalities."
Denver7 has taken a deeper look into remote learning and how it’s affecting different types of teachers, students and parents.
Denver Public Schools, which started remote learning on April 7, is still trying to buy additional hot spots and get internet access for some students. A district spokesperson said DPS is primarily focused on the present challenges for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Many are cautiously optimistic that schools will be able to open in August, but with continued social distancing and other precautions. Superintendent Tucker noted that in some Asian countries where schools have reopened, students are wearing masks.
“There may not be the same large scale gatherings at schools that there have been, but with creativity and some innovation, there’s no reason we can’t resume some normalcy,” said Dr. Adam Barkin, an emergency medicine physician who spoke during the Douglas County School District virtual town hall.
The Douglas County School District is currently planning to offer in-person summer programs and B.A.S.E. summer camps.
Cherry Creek Schools sent a statement to parents saying, "The district is beginning to have conversations about how we can safely reopen schools, hopefully in August. We are considering what we would have to do if we experience additional shut-down orders due to coronavirus next school year. We are in the early stages of that planning. So much depends on what happens over the next several months with the coronavirus crisis."