Students in Colorado Springs' largest school district will return to school remotely in January ahead of a return to in-person learning several days later, district officials announced Tuesday.
Most students in Academy School District 20 will resume learning Jan. 6 or 7, online. Elementary students will be the first to transition back to in-person learning, on Jan. 11, and will do so full time. Middle and high school students will return to a hybrid model of learning on Jan. 19, with the exception of Aspen Valley Middle School and Aspen Valley High School, and The Village High School, which will transition to in-person learning on Jan. 11, according to a news release from the district.
Special education students will begin the semester in person on Jan. 11, with middle and high school students attending school four days a week and elementary school students attending five days a week, the release added.
The return-to-learn plan "prioritizes student engagement in learning, while recognizing the spread of the virus in our schools and community," Superintendent Tom Gregory wrote in a Tuesday email to parents.
Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 plans to have students in remote learning from Jan. 11-15, and to have pre-kindergarten and elementary school students begin full-time, in-person instruction Jan. 19. On that date students in grades 6-12 will begin hybrid learning, the district announced Tuesday.
Teachers and staff will conduct "remote screenings" of all students via their parents or guardians via phone or email between Jan. 4 and 6 in an effort to ensure students are healthy when they return, according to a letter to families from Superintendent Keith Owen.
At Thomas MacLaren School, all students will begin the semester remotely on Jan. 6 and will remain in remote mode through Jan. 11, when students in kindergarten through 5th grade will resume in-person learning four days a week, and students in grades 6-12 will resume in-person learning three days a week, the school's director of communication told The Gazette Tuesday.
At Miami-Yoder JT-60 in Rush, students will return in person on Jan. 5 as planned, Superintendent Dwight Barnes told The Gazette.
The Widefield, Harrison, Cheyenne Mountain, Manitou and Lewis Palmer school districts will also postpone students' physical return to classrooms in January, after a recommendation from county health authorities to do so.
A delay "might be prudent," allowing time for districts to see the impact of holiday travel on COVID-19 cases, a representative for El Paso County Public Health said last week.
"Adjusting return-to-learn dates for second semester is a conversation in which school leaders and public health are actively engaged," agency spokeswoman Michelle Hewitt said last week. "Based on these discussions, there was consensus that it might be prudent to wait a couple weeks after the holidays before having students return to in-person instruction in schools."
District 11 Superintendent Michael Thomas will discuss the January return-to-learn plan at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the district said this week.
In July the county health department recommended that schools delay the first day of classes until at least Aug. 17 due to the rise of coronavirus cases in the Pikes Peak region.