Jeffco Public Schools in Jefferson County, Colorado, is planning to open schools for in-person learning in the upcoming academic year following months of nationwide school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A June 19 update on the district’s plans, dubbed “Restart Jeffco,” points to a reopening target date for the week of August 24, although it notes that the official start date could vary by school and grade. Teachers are to return to their classrooms on August 12, with other staffers following August 18. Per the plans, elementary schools “will open with 100% in-person learning,” although remote learning will remain an option.
Reopening plans for middle schools and high schools are forthcoming, with the “Restart Model” slated for a July 8 release, which will provide further details.
“Our goal is to restore in-person learning to the greatest extent possible while adhering to public health requirements. In order to open schools for in-person learning, we will need to implement certain mitigation strategies,” a letter detailing the district’s plans reads.
“As staff and students return to the classroom, important safety protocols will be in place to limit exposure and transmission of COVID-19,” it continues.
Protocols include social distancing “to the fullest level possible,” symptom screening, limitations on student groups “wherever possible,” reduction of shared items and school materials, increased building ventilation, and enhanced cleaning and decontamination. The letter also states that they will prohibit large and mixed-group use of the cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditoriums.
“If a virus outbreak requires the closure of the district, individual schools, or affects specific groups of students, we will be ready to serve students in a remote environment as outlined in our Remote Learning Plan,” the letter explains.
“For the health and wellness of our staff, we will consider appropriate and timely mitigating measures, that may include changes to work site setup or work site location. More information about this process will be provided to staff in July,” it adds.
The news comes as coronavirus cases rise in the United States as states move to reopen their economies. However, the death rate is continuing to drop, as many of the recent cases are among younger, less vulnerable individuals, some of whom are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus.