GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Citing a decrease in COVID-19 cases in Arapahoe County, the Cherry Creek School District on Thursday announced plans for a mix of in-person classes and hybrid or blended learning to start the school year this month.
Kindergarten through 5th grades will be 100% in-person, while secondary students will begin the year with two days of in-person class and three days of remote learning.
The secondary schedule will be divided into A/B cohorts of students, with "A" group students attending in-person class on Tuesday and Wednesday and "B" group attending in-person class on Thursday and Friday.
A phase-in week will begin Aug. 17, with certain grades attending class for a limited time period to get familiar with COVID-19 protocols. Like other Colorado districts, Cherry Creek is also offering a 100% remote learning option for all students.
"We have met or exceeded all health guidelines and requirements put out by state and local government agencies to safely return to school," Superintendent Scott A. Siegfried wrote in a news release Thursday, citing a decline in cases in Arapahoe County over the last 10 days.
Other metrics involved in the district's decision include test positivity rate, hospitalizations, and 14-day incident rates per 100,000 residents. Siegfried said the district "will not hesitate to make the call to switch to full remote learning" if the COVID-19 data changes.
Dr. John Douglas — executive director of the Tri-County Health Department, which includes Araphoe County — called the school district's plan "a thoughtful approach to decision-making, with a solid foundation in the best available science" and aligned with public health guidance.
Cherry Creek's decision Thursday came as Colorado school districts are planning for an array of different options across the state. Many major districts are now beginning the school year with remote classes, though several are taking a hybrid approach with both in-person learning and remote classes.
Cherry Creek is the fourth-largest district in Colorado and serves about 56,000 students.