THORNTON, Colo. (KDVR) — The pandemic has changed the way we work, play and learn.
Remote learning is now commonplace, and in at least two Denver metro school districts, it will soon become a permanent option.
Both the Adams 12 Five Star and 27J school districts are preparing to open fully online schools.
“We’ve had an interest in an online option pre-COVID. I think COVID gave us the spark to see how it would play out,” explained Beau Foubert, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for
The district is currently rushing to hire more than 30 teachers and staff members. Staff at the school will eventually all work out of the same building.
“We have to hire everything from first-grade teachers to high school math teachers and everything in between,” said Foubert.
Around a thousand families have already enrolled their kids in the new Adams 12 Five Star online program.
Many are drawn to the concept due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
“There are other families who have indicated their interest is not based on the pandemic. They prefer an online option because of the flexibility,” said Foubert.
Kristin Vaughan is not one of those parents. She says her 11- and 8-year-old kids struggled with remote learning, and she worries about isolation and the effects on mental health for students.
“It was difficult. My children’s well-being means more to me than anything, and I think if they had to do it full-time, we would have some struggles,” she said.
That’s one reason the Adams 12 Five Star District plans to hire three counselors, a social worker and an emotional learning specialist solely for the online school to ensure the mental well-being of students.
“A lot of that work is going to be engaging with kids and checking in with them and being thoughtful of finding ways, even from a distance, that we can get kids connected to one another, connected to their teachers,” Foubert explained.
One way the district hopes students can ultimately connect is through extracurricular programs and activities. By the fall of 2023, the school hopes to have its own sports teams and extracurricular programs.
Next year is a bit of a transition year. Students will participate in those activities at their current neighborhood schools while still attending class online at the new school.