This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
Facing strict limits on interaction between students and teachers to minimize the spread of COVID-19, some Denver middle and high schools are considering a model wherein students who return to classrooms would still do most of their learning online.
Other schools are considering hybrid models that have students attend part-time. Still others haven’t released their plans as they try to balance requirements for live teaching and limited cohorts, even as parents were asked to make a binding decision by Wednesday. Late in the afternoon, the district extended that deadline to Monday.
“I recognize the frustration that some of you have felt with the high level of uncertainty we are all experiencing about today’s looming deadline,” South High School Principal Bobby Thomas wrote on Instagram Wednesday afternoon. He promised more details soon.
Denver students have been attending virtual classes since Aug. 24. Young students have already begun returning to classrooms, while middle and high school students are scheduled to do so by Oct. 21. Denver Public Schools has said for weeks that middle and high schools would offer a mix of in-person and virtual classes. But it hasn’t provided specifics.
Rather, officials have left those up to schools to decide based on their circumstances and size. Some high schools have fewer than 100 students while others have more than 1,000.
However, the district has laid out a set of “guardrails” for middle and high schools to follow. Each student can interact with no more than 35 classmates who will make up that student’s “cohort.” Teachers can interact with no more than two cohorts. Schools should aim to provide in-person students with at least 10 hours per week of face-to-face instruction and all students with 3.5 hours of real-time instruction per day, either virtually or in person.