Cherry Creek students to attend school in-person this fall

'Blended option' of in-person and online classes is no longer considered

Ellis Arnold
earnold@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/2/20

After uncertainty over how often students would attend school in the fall, the Cherry Creek School District has announced that it plans to offer in-person classes five days a week for all students, …

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Cherry Creek students to attend school in-person this fall

'Blended option' of in-person and online classes is no longer considered

Posted

After uncertainty over how often students would attend school in the fall, the Cherry Creek School District has announced that it plans to offer in-person classes five days a week for all students, with online learning for families who want to opt out for any reason.

Students would likely return to a precaution-filled school environment where students and staff undergo symptom screenings in the mornings and masks will be required inside schools “to the greatest extent possible,” Superintendent Scott Siegfried wrote in an online letter to the community.

“I want to emphasize the importance of these health measures. If we follow these protocols and adults and students wear masks, we will have a greater chance of maintaining health and avoiding prolonged closure of schools due to infection,” Siegfried's June 30 announcement read.

Other changes related to the coronavirus pandemic:

• Adjusted class schedules to keep groups of students together.

• No assemblies, field trips or large gatherings.

• No communal supplies.

• Schools will have hand sanitizer and soap for frequent hand-washing.

• Classrooms, buses and other school facilities will be disinfected regularly.

It is possible that school may fully consist of online classes for certain time periods if public officials issue closure orders — and that could last for days, weeks or months, according to the district.

The district also is “planning to be able to transition to full remote learning at the classroom, school or district level depending on whether we have any confirmed cases of students or staff,” said Abbe Smith, district spokeswoman.

The district earlier in June was considering a “blended” option, where students would split time between attending school in person using online class, but that is not one of the options it was weighing as of the end of June.

Here's a look at age-specific precautions according to the district's plans listed online. The first day of school will be Aug. 17.

Elementary students

K-5 students will be “cohorted,” meaning they will be placed in a class and remain in that same group. Students also will be grouped by grade level for lunch, recess and special services.

School supplies and materials will be assigned to individual students and kept separate from other cohorts.

Before- and after-school care will operate as normal when in-person classes are happening.

Middle school

Students in grades 6-8 would follow a block schedule to reduce the number of classes and transitions in the school day.

Students would use backpacks, and no lockers would be used.

Each grade level will be considered its own cohort, and students would stay with their cohorts throughout the day. Grouping also would be based on class.

Classes would be divided in an “A Day” and “B Day” schedule, and schools would use staggered arrival and dismissal.

High school

Students in grades 9-12 would follow an “extended block schedule.”

The extended block schedule would significantly reduce the number of classes and transitions in a day, with Monday holding “class 1” in the morning and “class 2” in the afternoon, Tuesday holding “class 3” and then “class 4,” and so on. A lunch break would take place between the morning and afternoon classes.

Students would be “cohorted” by class, with reduced passing periods and intermingling. Students would attend lunch aligned with their class cohort, with an open-campus policy for lunch.

The plan also aims to reduce the number of students on campus by providing mid-day transportation to account for off- or study-hour arrival and departure.

Students would use backpacks and no lockers.

The schedule would ensure access to regularly scheduled learning experiences, including core and elective classes, career-and-technical education, and classes at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus.

Online option for all students

Due to the pandemic, the district will open a one-year, K-5 online program, which will run in addition to its Elevation Middle and Elevation High online schools.

For all ages, instruction would be delivered online by a certified teacher with a mix of synchronous and asynchronous — meaning live and recorded — learning. Attendance would be taken, and students would be graded on their work.

Learning tools would be limited for easy access for students and families, the district says. Daily schedules for online learning will be released by Aug. 1.

Students will need to commit to in-person learning at the start of the year and will not be able to switch to online learning if they do because the district will need to reassign staff as needed based on families' decisions. An exception is if the whole district has to switch to fully online learning due to COVID-19 conditions.

For middle- and high-schoolers, those who are interested in classes, activities and athletics not offered by Elevation potentially could participate at their neighborhood school.

The district's online students typically are “independent learners” who are motivated, good at time management and are able to advocate for themselves, the district says — although the online learning option is for any families who do not want to send their child to school for health or any other reasons, according to Siegfried's letter.

Parents and guardians are an integral part of K-5 online learning, the district's site says.

“Although each course is led by a certified teacher who provides regular online instruction, elementary-aged students need additional guidance and support from their parents (or) guardians,” the district's site says. Parents and guardians will be expected to monitor students daily, maintain the student's weekly progress and help the student with course navigation. 

At press time, Smith did not know if the district has an estimate of how many families do not have high-speed internet and if there is anything the district can do to address that issue.

How to apply

K-5 families can apply from June 29 to July 13. Once a student has registered, students also will complete an orientation, “learner profile” and interview before enrollment will be offered. 

For full-time online school, students in grades 6-12 for the 2020-21 school year are encouraged to apply by July 13. Space and course offerings may be limited after that time, and the district will not accept applications after July 24.

Students can apply here. See that website for information on applying part-time.

The website suggests K-5 families “visit the district's K-5 online website and apply through Parent Forms in PowerSchool.”

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