Denver South High School

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Denver South Community Letter 7-10-2020

Posted: Jul 11, 2020

July 10, 2020

Dear Denver South Community,

South High School will offer the return to in-person learning for all of our students in August.  We will communicate finalized schedules, dates and protocols for all students return to school based on five days a week, unless healthcare experts from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Tri-County Health Department or Governor Polis tell us otherwise.  

DPS will also provide an online learning option for 2020-2021 school year for families who choose not to have their students return to in-person learning in August.  More information and the registration for the fully online option will be available in August. (If selected, athletics, activities, social emotional support, targeted tutoring, food bank, and other resources, South students and families would have access too.)

The Return to School Cohort Groups, in which South is part of, includes both a paper and in-person pilot groups.  These groups have been working hard since the end of May to provide safe, realistic and viable options for returning to school in the fall for students and staff.  The pilot schools have included input from school leaders, teachers, parents and district leaders from DPS along with other city/state professionals in nutrition services, health, and transportation.  

Returning to in-person learning will only happen if safety protocols and procedures are put in place for our students, staff and families!  Denver South safety protocols and procedures must be transparent and easily understandable before any students or staff return to South for the 2020-21 school year.

South staff did an amazing job transitioning to a remote learning model in a matter of days last March, and we are prepared to return to an improved distance learning approach if we are required to do so that includes synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid options for all students. Hybrid options for learning (a blend of in-person learning and online learning) exist if needed. 

Returning to “normal” as much as possible is the goal.  However, it is critical that we take necessary precautions to keep ALL of our students, ALL our staff, ALL their families and ALL our community.  We will prioritizing the most vulnerable individual’s safety. We will diligently follow health experts’ guidelines for cleaning and social distancing as well as follow the recommendations from the Colorado Department of Education as we finalize plans for bringing our students back this fall. These guidelines include health precautions such as: 

  • Students and staff wearing masks;
  • Students self-screening for fever/symptoms at home before they come to school; or
  • Students being screened at School for fever/symptoms;
  • Six feet of physical distancing within classrooms and learning spaces; 
  • Clear plastic shields installed in office areas and other common school spaces; and or
  • Installed in classrooms where six foot spacing cannot occur;
  • Frequent handwashing times built into the day;
  • Keeping the same students together in small groups as much as possible (cohort grouping) to limit exposure;
  • Breakfast and Lunch occurring within classrooms;
  • Structured passing periods that are staggered to limit cohort exposure;
  • Reducing the number of students on school buses; and 
  • ·     Excluding large school assemblies or gatherings.

(All recommendations below are subject to change based on new information).

We understand that there are many questions that we all want answers too.  We all want to know what the upcoming school year will look like, but WE ALL must be flexible, understanding, and patience throughout the school year as we navigate this together.  More details will become available throughout the remainder of summer, and we will keep you informed along the way.

The ever changing directives, recommendations and guidelines from national, state and health officials surrounding how and when we will return to school for learning and how we will resume athletics and activities has caused anxieties and left multiple stakeholders hands in the air.  The need for answers to the many questions that we all have is not a reflection of a lack of commitment or desire to provide guidance, but a full acknowledgement that we are all experiencing unknowns and answers cannot be definitive. We want to continue to provide safely and equitably (not equal) learning for ALL students that are looking to school leadership for the answers.  We will provide answers and direction when most opportune, as not to exacerbate the confusion that currently exist as we are navigating our personal and professional lives.

We could move forward with the current guidelines and announce what protocols and procedures will look like for the upcoming school year, but our strategic plan must include responsibility and accountability.  Denver South must set the highest safety standards for returning to learning when compared to what we are seeing in our city, state, nation and world that we have observed of late.  We will not let politics or individual stakeholders determine our safety protocols and procedures based on personal preference, and not put our most venerable students and staff as first priority.  

We understand that many students, staff, and families are concerned after the cancellation of in-person learning and school during the spring semester in March, and are looking for reassurance of returning to the normal we all knew and hope for.  Our staff will continue to communicate optimism and work with purpose and intent to resume learning safely, based on whatever individual families decide for the 2020-21 school year.

Again, thank you for your ongoing patience and confidence in our processes. These plans represent our very best thinking, but we also know they could change as circumstances in our community surrounding COVID-19 change. Details will continue to be available on our district website:

We are all Denver South and together during these unprecedented times, our strength, commitment and willingness to help each other, will emerge and stand out to show the strong school community we are!

DPS RETRUN TO SCHOOL INFO: Complete the survey sent by DPS by TODAY, Friday JULY 10th:

Please refer to our Superintendent’s E-mail from last week regarding the plan to return to full, in-person learning, with health precautions in place for students and staff. There will also be an option for completely online learning for grades K-12, in order to support students who prefer not to return to school in-person.

Link to the survey: https://survey.k12insight.com/r/RmNuyr

DENVER SOUTH SPECIFIC SCHOOL RELATED INFORMATION: To assist with our specific planning, Denver South would like to know how many families prefer to return to school in the fall with 100% in-person learning vs 100% on-line learning.   We need to hear from you in order to incorporate your feedback into our school planning for the 2020-21 school year. 

PLEASE fill out the Denver South Return to school survey by July 13.

Student class schedules continue to be a work in progress and will not be available until August.  There will be more info shared in August about how students can access their schedules prior to the start of the school year.

STUDENT, STAFF, AND LEADER VOICES ON THE DECISION BY THE BOARD TO REMOVE SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS FROM SCHOOLS: Many of you are aware of the plan that was voted on by our school board to remove SROs from school buildings by the May of 2021. In the spirit of transparency and open dialogue, please review the statements linked below. One is from our Black Student Alliance (BSA) Sponsor, and one is a copy of the letter Principal Thomas sent to the School Board to express his views. The decision has been made, and South will move forward with this direction from the Board. However, we think it is important for our families and students to be aware of different opinions on this important topic.  We understand that our Mascot change is not enough if we are not looking at curriculum changes, providing the necessary professional development based on change for teachers, and bias training and support.  

Sincerely,

Bobby Thomas
Principal