Reyna Najera works on a laptop in a classroom in Newlon Elementary School on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. The school was one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools where students could participate in remote learning from a school in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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In a change driven by rising COVID cases, all but the youngest students in Colorado’s largest school district will be learning online at least through the end of November and many will be online through the end of the semester, according to a document obtained by Chalkbeat.

Less than a week after returning most elementary students to the classroom, Denver Public Schools has decided that students in grades 3 through 5 should learn from home until after the Thanksgiving break. These older elementary students will be able to go to school through Friday and start learning remotely Monday.

“I am heartbroken that we are here,” Superintendent Susana Cordova wrote in a message to parents released later Tuesday. “I believe that our efforts to gradually reopen our school buildings and educate and care for our children has been the right thing to do, and at the same time, it is clear that we need to balance this with the needs of our community to drive the COVID rates down.”

MORE: Denver implements more coronavirus restrictions as cases, hospitalizations continue to rise

Students in kindergarten through second grade will continue learning at school, as will recently arrived immigrant students and students with disabilities who attend center-based programs. The district will also continue to offer a limited number of seats in remote learning centers.

According to the document, district officials want to continue to offer in-person learning for the youngest and most vulnerable students who have the hardest time engaging in online learning.

Middle and high school students, most of whom have been remote since the start of the school year in August, will stay online until the end of the semester Dec. 18. The district previously had planned to bring those students back Nov. 9.


Erica Meltzer is Bureau Chief of Chalkbeat Colorado, where she also covers the legislature and statewide education issues. Erica was a founding editor of the local news site Denverite. Before that, she covered everything from housing and energy...