Denver schools likely to require students to wear masks

Denver Public Schools offered the first glimpse Thursday of what the district’s fall semester may look like, outlining new COVID-19 safety protocols that include small class sizes, daily health checks and a likely requirement for all students and staff to wear masks while at school.

The announcement comes just days after the Colorado Department of Education released its recommendations for reopening buildings and conducting in-person learning this fall.

While executive orders enacted by Gov. Jared Polis require teachers and faculty to wear masks during the school day, DPS’ stance to mandate students wear them is notably stricter.

DPS is Colorado’s largest school district with more than 93,000 students enrolled in 2018, according to its website.

“It is essential that we take these new precautions and make every effort to maximize the academic progress and social and emotional development for our kids,” Steve Federico, a pediatric and school programs specialist with Denver Health, said in a video outlining the district’s proposed changes.

In addition to requiring students and staff to don face coverings, the district plans to implement the following safety protocols:

  • Limiting each classroom’s capacity to 10 to 16 people, including instructors
  • Minimizing movement throughout each facility by keeping students in a single classroom as much as possible, including to eat lunch
  • Implementing wellness screenings, including temperature and symptom checks, for every person upon arrival to school
  • Discontinuing large assemblies
  • Disinfecting facilities throughout the school day, as well as in between school days

If someone at a school tests positive for the virus, DPS may discontinue in-person classes for at least 14 days to address the situation, the announcement said. Other districts throughout Colorado, such as Jeffco Public Schools, also are preparing for a mix of onsite and remote learning for the upcoming semester.

On Friday, DPS plans to release several potential plans for how the district might reduce class sizes through a blend on in-person and online learning, district spokeswoman Winna Maclaren said.

“That would include what that mix would look like and what kind of scenarios we’re looking at so that some students will be in the building certain days of the week or certain weeks of the month so we can limit class sizes,” Maclaren said.

Additionally, the district plans to implement special policies for high-risk students and staff, including those who may live with someone at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

See the full announcement below:

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