Denver Public Schools Offer New Details On Virtual Learning

DENVER—Denver Public School officials are preparing for three learning scenarios that will likely vary throughout the school year as health conditions and guidance change as a result of the coronavirus.

The upcoming fall semester will start off with fully remote learning, with the hope of offering in-person learning to families in early September, according to district officials.

“We are preparing for a school year that will offer a fully virtual learning option for families who want it, in addition to as much in-person learning as conditions allow, based on the guidance of our health partners,” school officials said in a letter to parents.

Virtual Learning: What To Expect

District officials said students taking part in a fully online program will be assigned teachers from their school. In some cases, however, virtual program students will be assigned to a class with a DPS teacher from a different school in their community, based on class sizes and staffing availability.

Current DPS teachers with experience in the content areas that they are teaching a student will be dedicated full-time to students in the virtual program. These teachers will receive additional training and support on delivering a virtual education program, district officials explained.

K-12th grade families who opt into the virtual program will commit to a full-time, online program from Aug. 24 at least through December, district officials said. School leaders may allow students to transfer programs at their discretion should they have the ability to do so. If multiple schools have partnered for a virtual program, there will be a process for reviewing mid-year transfers for special circumstances. Students will not lose their spot in their school while attending the fully virtual program.

As much as possible, district officials said virtual program teachers will try to make their classes just like in-person learning. Most classes will be held live — meaning that there will be dedicated times for students to engage directly with their teachers and classmates.

If a student is on an individualized education program or 504 Plan, a school team will work with the student on whether and how services can be provided in the virtual environment. Students in the virtual program who are English Language Learners will continue to receive support services.

Virtual program students will also continue to have access to their school’s social-emotional health resources, such as psychologists, social workers, counselors, or other support staff who can provide social-emotional support, district officials said.

Learning Scenarios for Upcoming School Year

In addition to the “virtual program,” for those who choose fully remote instruction, DPS officials said they are preparing for the following three learning scenarios:

  • Remote – School buildings will not be open. Learning takes place through a completely online model.

  • Hybrid – School buildings will be open with reduced class sizes on an AA/BB schedule, with an additional in-person day for students with disabilities and students in the early stages of learning English. Siblings will be assigned the same schedule. The hybrid scenario would not apply to students in the virtual program.

  • In-person – School buildings will be open. All students will return to school for in-person learning, except those who are in the virtual program.

District officials said their plans for the school year will ultimately be based on the COVID-19 rates in the community at the time, to ensure the safety of our students, families and staff.

“We appreciate our community’s involvement and understanding as we work to provide the best schooling and support we can. Together, we will do everything we can to make the 2020-21 school year a positive learning experience for all of our students,” they said.

This article originally appeared on the Denver Patch

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