DPS responds to board member concerns over in-person learning

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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Public Schools appears to be on track to start in-person learning next month after one school board member raised public health concerns.

Last month, DPS announced plans to start the 2020-21 school year with students returning to the classroom on August 17. On Sunday DPS Board of Education member Tay Anderson publicly spoke about hoping to amend that plan.

“If we are going to see a rise in COVID cases, then we have to pump the brakes of saying ‘we shouldn’t welcome kids back at this time,’” Anderson said.

“We should still do remote learning and then transition into a full day of in-person learning in October, if public health guidelines permit,” he added.

But on Monday, a spokeswoman for DPS sent the following statement in response to discussion about pushing back in-person learning. 

“We have been working with local health experts on opening our doors safely to staff and students. The educational, emotional, mental and social needs of our students depend on opening our doors safely. Of course, we are also considering the health implications as the coronavirus situation continues to unfold and we are deeply grateful for Director Anderson’s advocacy in ensuring students and staff are protected. The current health crisis continues to evolve, and we are poised to act swiftly with changing circumstances and to continue the conversation with our board, teachers, staff, school leaders and the community.”

The Medical Director for Infection Prevention at UC Health University of Colorado Hospital, Dr. Michelle Barron, said based on the information local schools have right now, they appear to be making sound choices on reopening schools. She underscored the use of masks, social distancing and sanitizing surfaces. 

“Having them in the classroom if it is structured and you can control it a lot better than you can most of the social things,” Barron said. 

On Friday the American Academy of Pediatrics announced their support for a return to schools this fall. In a statement, the organization said in part: 

“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff. Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics.”

Anderson has said he will  continue to support his colleagues, even if he doesn’t agree with the plan for the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

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