Denver parents frustrated with remote learning flip-flop for older elementary students

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DENVER (KDVR) — Imagine a kid’s excitement of finally getting back to school, only to go back online in a few days’ time. Explaining why this had to happen was not easy for parents with third, fourth and fifth graders in Denver Public Schools.

“Complete devastation,” said Denver parent Jenny Nargi. “My fourth grader was crying last night.”

“I had to watch my fifth grader cry her way to school, because she’s going back to doing eight more hours of zoom starting Monday,” said Tyler Carlson.

Superintendent Susana Cordova confirmed Wednesday that most of the district’s students will return to 100% remote learning, with students in grades 3 to 5 switching to remote learning on Nov. 2 through the Thanksgiving holiday, when DPS will reassess health conditions.

Parents sounded off on the decision during a Zoom community meeting Wednesday night.

“Our situation here is not one of frustration. It’s of being pissed off,” Carlson said.

“You guys send us survey after survey after survey, and you might as well just throw them in the trash can,” said another parent.

In a statement, DPS says the overall community trend requires them to shift more of their staff and students to remote learning, and to bring their building occupancy to 25 percent to meet state health guidelines, with Denver shifting to Level 3 restrictions.

But teachers questioned if the move would actually help prevent the spread of COVID-19, since class sizes aren’t being reduced.

“There are no extra staff members to provide support, they’re not going to spread kids out, so I don’t know how that’s going to help anybody,” said DPS teacher Sarah Smith.

According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver has the fewest school outbreaks among the five major Denver-metro counties, with four outbreaks — two of which come from elementary schools. 

“The only thing that’s going to be acceptable to this group is if third through fifth grade goes back to school on Monday,” Carlson said. “That’s the only acceptable solution.”

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