Denver to offer more in-person learning at middle and high schools next month

South High School, a Denver public school.
Denver high schools won’t be required to offer five days of in-person learning, but struggling students will have more chances to be in the classroom. (Katie Wood/The Denver Post)

Middle and high school students in Denver will have more opportunities to attend class in person after spring break, district officials said Thursday. 

All middle and K-8 schools will offer five days of in-person learning by April 19, Denver Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Mike Ramirez told the school board.

High schools won’t be required to offer five days of in-person learning, but students will have more chances to attend class in person, especially high school seniors and students who are struggling, Ramirez said.

All students will still have the option to learn entirely remotely.

Interim Superintendent Dwight Jones cited decreasing COVID-19 cases and increasing teacher vaccinations as factors that make it easier to boost in-person learning. The majority of school-based staff is already fully vaccinated and the district is on track to reach its goal of full vaccination of all staff by spring break, according to a district presentation.

“All of these things are positive signs that put us in a better position to do more and invite more in-person [learning],” Jones said.

The district will continue to allow each district-run secondary school to set its own in-person learning schedule. Independent charter schools can also set their own schedules.

The majority of district-run middle and K-8 schools already offer in-person learning five days per week. But eight schools are currently offering less than that, with most of those schools operating on a hybrid schedule that combines in-person with remote learning.

By contrast, most district-run high schools are currently operating on hybrid schedules. The district has given high schools several options for boosting the amount of in-person learning, ranging from offering five days of in-person learning to all students to keeping a hybrid schedule but prioritizing certain students to attend more than they do now.

Because limiting the number of students who interact with each other proved more difficult at the secondary level, Denver middle and high school students have had less in-person learning this school year than elementary students, who spend the majority of their day in a single classroom with the same teacher. Secondary students began gradually returning to classrooms in late January for the first time since school buildings shuttered last March.

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