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Grades 6-12 Return to 100% In-Person Learning

Grades 6-12 Return to 100% In-Person Learning
Posted on 02/26/2021
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Jeffco Public Schools announces the return of 100% in-person learning for our secondary (grades 6-12) schools.

We will return to full in-person learning for grades 6-12 in a phased approach beginning March 15 through April 5. At many of our schools, the ratio of students choosing the remote learning option compared to hybrid enables us to increase the numbers of students in classrooms.

 


Phase 1: Beginning March 15
Based on physical space available within the school to maintain 6 feet of social distance, schools will start bringing students back for full in-person learning. Priority will be based on student needs, as determined by each school’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) process, individual education plans, and the need for special services. Schools will be reaching out to students and families based on the above priority to implement their in-person learning schedules. The schools will maintain 6 feet of social distancing, when possible. In addition to social distancing, strict adherence to health mitigation strategies will be in place including wearing masks, seating charts, targeted contact tracing, and health screening prior to entering the building.

Phase 2: April 5
The Hybrid option will end and all students currently scheduled in the Hybrid model will be scheduled as 100% in-person learning Monday through Thursday, unless an alternative request is made to the school. All students currently in a 100% Remote model will remain 100% Remote, unless an alternative request is made to the school. Schools will work to equitably meet alternative requests, but will be bound by schedules, class sizes, and resources. By this time we anticipate a relaxing in the social distancing requirement from CDPHE which will enable us to have students in closer proximity. The 100% Remote Learning option will remain for those who chose not to participate in 100% in-person learning.

The schedule will be 4-days per week, Monday through Thursday, with Friday being an asynchronous learning day for secondary students. Throughout this school year, we have found that students in these grades benefit from having Fridays for individual meetings with their teachers, catch up on school work, and have an opportunity for targeted academic and social-emotional supports through student support services. In addition, teachers and staff utilize Fridays for much needed planning time to support student learning in both in-person and remote environments. Therefore, we will continue to utilize Fridays as asynchronous days through the end of this school year.

Charter school families should check with their school about their plans for in-person learning.

How did we come to this decision?
The good news that supports the return decision is the announcement of Jefferson County moving to Level Blue on the state’s COVID dial. Effective today, Feb. 26, Jefferson County moved to Level Blue: Caution on the state’s Dial 2.0. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) was notified about the move by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The shift to Level Blue comes after the county’s one-week incidence and test positivity rates for COVID-19 have fallen into the designated metrics for this lower level of restrictions, and this trend has been sustained for a full week.

Since winter break, our goal has been the return of every grade level to in-person learning when it was both safe and sustainable to do so. We returned PreK-5 grades to in-person learning in mid-January, and our 6-12 grades to Hybrid learning soon after. Over the past two weeks, District leadership instituted a series of feedback activities involving many layers and stakeholders. Principals and other employee groups, students, and community stakeholders have been providing insights and feedback in different ways - through meetings, emails, phone calls, petitions, and more. The interim superintendent also meets regularly with experts at Jefferson County Public Health to discuss our county COVID-19 case data, the availability and distribution of the vaccine, and the changes to the state’s COVID-19 dial framework. The interim superintendent has met with and heard the perspectives of the Board of Education, school leadership, employee groups, the district’s COVID-19 Collaborative Monitoring Committee (CMC), and other stakeholders.

Last week, K-8, middle and high school principals were asked to gather feedback from their staff, students, and families. Each school determined the best way to gather their information. Middle and high school principals, grouped by articulation area, met with District leadership earlier this week to provide feedback. Our principals provided a consensus on a full return to 100% in-person on April 5. They also identified issues in implementing a return to in-person learning, and gave me their assurance that they had consulted with their stakeholders, including school staff and families.

This information gathering and feedback process has been extensive and deliberate. We have come to a consensus decision that April 5 is the correct date for a full return of our secondary schools to 100% in-person learning.

Not everyone will agree with the decisions made. We understand there are some in our community who do not believe we should return to 100% in-person learning. From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to institute both remote and hybrid learning models, our goal was and continues to be the return of 100% in-person learning for all grade levels. We will continue to offer the remote-only option for those who prefer to continue in that model. We have also announced a plan to continue offering a remote learning option for all grades for the 2021-22 school year.

Next steps:
Within our schools, the data shows our health precautions and the efforts we’ve taken to stay open are working. While we’ve had a number of quarantines, they have remained relatively small because of the guidelines that allow targeted contact tracing.

Our efforts to vaccinate our teachers and staff are ahead of schedule. Nearly all of our employees have now been invited to receive their first shot – and we anticipate that most, especially our student-facing teachers and staff, will have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated before the end of March. You can see the progress on our COVID-19 Dashboard.

We are not out of the woods. There is still community spread of the virus and concerns about new variants. Everyone must be expected to continue the same health precautions that have proven to work in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in our schools. Please remember to stay home when you’re sick, wear your mask, use social distancing, and wash your hands often. Taking these simple actions will help to keep you safe and our schools open.

Additionally, with quarantines and outbreaks still possible, classes and schools will be ready to move to remote learning for building cleanings, if necessary. We would encourage families to continue to have plans in place for when this occurs.

We know this has been a challenging and unsettling time for everyone. No one has escaped the uncertainty, worry, health concerns, and additional workload this pandemic has put upon us. We do believe we are turning a big corner and seeing hope become reality. The increased availability of the vaccine, the reduction of community spread and hospitalizations, and the slow, but progressive opportunities of being together, will enable us to enjoy life moments which we have so desperately missed over the past year.


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