Denver schools planning for these coronavirus safety measures in the fall

Lenora Vallejos cleans chairs at Bruce Randolph School in Denver on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Face masks, small class sizes, and hand-washing breaks are some of the coronavirus safety protocols laid out in a video released Thursday by Denver Public Schools, a day before the district is set to share more details about what schooling in the fall could look like.

This is the last week of school for the state’s largest district, which made the shift to remote learning in mid-March to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The next school year is scheduled to begin in August — and students, parents, and teachers are wondering whether school buildings will reopen or whether students will continue to learn from home.

The video, called “Planning for a Safe Return to School,” doesn’t fully answer that question. But it does provide an outline of the precautions that are likely to be in place if or when in-person learning resumes. The precautions include:

  • Performing “simple but strict” wellness screenings for all adults and students when they arrive at school that will likely include temperature and symptom checks
  • Requiring all students and adults to wear face masks
  • Having hand sanitizer available and providing hand-washing breaks
  • Limiting the number of people to 10 to 16 per classroom
  • Setting up classrooms so people are spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • Having students stay in their classrooms as much as possible, including to eat lunch
  • Not holding large assemblies or gatherings
  • Adjusting school bus service to ensure social distancing on buses
  • Enacting policies to accommodate staff and students who are at higher risk of complications from the coronavirus or who could spread it to people at higher risk
  • Providing sustainable workloads for staff, especially those caring for children at home

The precautions are in line with both state orders and guidance released this week by the Colorado Department of Education. A state order requires educators and staff to wear face masks. In the video, the Denver district says it wants students to wear them, too.

The state guidance does not recommend a particular school reopening scenario but lays out several options, including that schools group students into cohorts and have the first cohort attend school half the week and the second attend the other half.

Denver Public Schools is expected to release its own more detailed scenarios Friday.

“Ever since we closed schools to in-person learning in mid-March, we’ve been looking forward to welcoming our students and educators back to our buildings,” the video says. “As we look ahead to the start of the next school year, we are excited about the chance to do that. And we are absolutely committed to making sure that it can be done safely.”

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