DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Public Schools went back to class on Aug. 21. DPS is the largest school district in the state with about 88,000 students and more than 200 schools across the city.

Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero was joined by dignitaries from DPS to welcome students and families at Bromwell Elementary during a ceremony.

“Yes, we have gone through a whole lot this past year and this summer. We’ve been busy, you’ll see it as soon as you enter Bromwell. And all of us who are listening in the DPS community, you’ll see the shift to changes to make sure your learning environment gets that much better in terms of safe and welcoming and more comfortable,” Marrero said during the ceremony.

Jodi Sewell, a mom with three students, said she believes that her school is successful because of the staff and parents, not necessarily due to district support. 

 “I feel like nobody is being served well by this district or this board, and so that’s why I had a hard time showing up this morning for the addresses [of district officials],“  said Sewell. “Funding-wise, discipline metric-wise, focus-wise, transparency-wise, I mean, frankly, I think this was a political stunt and it’s really hard when you see your kids and other kids regardless of background, socio-economic status, race, it’s really hard to see your kids used for political gain.”

Sewell has a fourth grader at Bromwell Elementary but chose to send her older children to a middle school outside of DPS.

DPS said they are launching a new mental health service called Hazel Health.

The goal is to help address the mental health concerns of middle and high school students at district-run schools. There will be no cost to the families, and it will connect students with therapists for weekly virtual therapy sessions, at school or at home.

Also, RTD is starting its Zero Fare for Youth pilot program.

Students can ride for free starting Sept. 1 until Aug. 31, 2024. Students just have to show a form of ID, like a student ID, to get on buses or trains. It’s recommended parents ride along with elementary-aged students.