Wed. Sept. 16, 2020 Cordova Press Briefing
The most obvious element of this press conference was that much of what Cordova said couldn’t be heard—she said she was getting an “unstable connection” message. The unasked question was, “How effective can remote learning be if even the superintendent fades in and out in a half-hour press conference?”
DPS is waiting to see how many students choose in-person learning before they can develop final plans for 6th to 12th grade students. So far, the percent requesting remote-only is “in the low 30 percent range.” DPS expects the return to school will be a combination of in-school and remote, with students at school at least two days a week. The choice parents make will be binding for the remainder of the second quarter.
“We are very committed to maintaining small cohort sizes—a cohort would be the total number of students that can interact. In-person class sizes will likely be smaller than a cohort size. Class enrollment will largely be dictated by two factors: the number of students who are selecting in-person learning and the size of classrooms so that we can ensure that there’s a minimum of three feet of social distance between all students within a room—so it’s very likely that there will be fewer than 35 students in any specific class.”
The press conference started right after a news flash that 1,700 Cherry Creek High School students are now attending remotely after a Covid-19 outbreak. Cordova explained that since the Cherry Creek cohort sizes were large, many teachers had to be quarantined due to exposure—thus making them unavailable to be in the classroom; students then had to be put on remote. This is the reason DPS ”has very explicit expectations around cohort size,” says Cordova.
Wed. Sept. 2, 2020—DPS Superintendent Cordova this morning spoke to press about Covid, remote learning support centers and criteria for Covid safety upon return to school.
Superintendent Susana Cordova announced that schools have the option to start posting information on support centers that will provide in-person support after Labor Day while remote learning continues. “We are staffing them to be able to host 10% of a school’s population. Every school is working on the criteria for bringing students back in. We’ve talked about the priority groups being students who need access to reliable internet; students who are English learners; students with disabilities, where more support is necessary; in elementary schools for some of our younger students where remote learning is significantly challenging; and for working parents as well,” says Cordova. “Our schools will be working on the communications with their communities around remote learning centers.”
Cordova also said the COVID Conditions & Readiness Indicator dashboard built by Denver Health is now live at DPSK12.org. It shows three critical metrics that guide decisions to safeguard health and safety and guide return-to-school efforts. The data is the 2-week average in Denver County of the number of cases per hundred thousand population; whether the trend is rising or falling and the degree of rising or falling; and the percent positive. The metrics distinguish between increases in testing and increases in coronavirus transmission within our county.
“It is not required that all indicators be green to safely open, but we have had conversations about if any single indicator moves to red, how we use that as a trigger to consider how we can either safely be in school with more aggressive measures to contain Covid, or if that is a call to move into remote.”
DPS has made a commitment to share with the school community anytime there is a
positive case, says Cordova. “There is evolving guidance around the rules for quarantining students, particularly thinking about what close contact means and how we can ensure safe protocols for people within a building. In secondary that might look like using seating charts so that we actually can determine, if there is a positive case, where people are sitting in proximity [and may need to be quarantined.]…. I want to assure our families that our goal is to be as transparent as possible.”
Through a partnership with Gary Community Investments, “COVIDCheck will allow all our DPS employees who are school-based to be tested twice a month; in addition to that all other employees in the district in support teams outside of schools can access COVIDCheck on a regular basis. We’ve had very low numbers and obviously it’s really important that we are all getting checked so that we can, as quickly as possible, avoid any exposure to people who are positive,” says Cordova.
DPS plans to have a seven- to ten-day supply on hand of personal protective equipment, says Cordova. “All teachers will receive two reusable cloth masks and an additional KN95 mask per week that the State of Colorado is providing to all educators, two face shields, and a plexiglas divider. There are additional plexiglas dividers for all of our front offices, as well as an assortment of plexiglass dividers that can be used for students, particularly in the event there are students who, for a medical reason, may not be able to wear a mask. As a reminder, we are asking that all of our students wear a mask.”
For preschoolers, masks will be required unless they are eating or napping or on a designated mask break which will generally happen outdoors.
Our commitment is to clean all high-touch areas in schools three times a day at minimum in addition to disinfecting every evening to make sure that the room conditions are sanitary and safe for students and staff.
In a statement about curriculum, Cordova says DPS has created a new team for culturally sustaining curriculum instruction to live and teach the district’s values of equity. This will support black and indigenous students of color in understanding their history and being able to see themselves in what they are learning.
Wed. Aug.19, 2020 — Susana Cordova just held a press briefing as DPS prepares to go back to school via remote learning on Monday. Cordova provided the following information:
- In approximately mid-September DPS will share updated information on Covid-19 risks and guidelines from local health professionals
- Also in mid-September, “We’ll also have an update on the timeline for families to make final decisions about virtual or in-person learning.”
- An online telephone town hall family forum for secondary families will be held tonight, Aug. 19 (last night was the elementary forum)
- How will students be matched with teachers for remote learning? “As most of our schools are beginning with remote, they are working to make sure that students are matched up with teachers in their building while they are beginning the process of building schedules for in-person.”
- How many teachers have requested remote accommodations? As of a week ago, just under 700 teachers and 32 principals had requested accommodations.
- Why is DPS not opening when other districts are? “Many schools don’t have air conditioning and with Covid-19 we’re not able to use many of the cooling mechanisms that we’ve historically used in the past. We can’t use portable fans.”
- People can get in touch with Susana Cordova directly at superintendent@DPSk12.org
Info about computers and internet:
- There’s a national shortage of chromebooks. DPS has ordered 10,000 and they’re coming in gradually. If your students can use personal computers, please return school-provided ones so they can be distributed where they are most needed.
- Or if your student needs a computer, contact DPS.
- If you want to purchase a Chromebook, be sure it has at least least four gigabytes of memory. Low cost options are available for families through the PCs for People program.
- Free and reduced lunch families are eligible for free Comcast internet.