Aurora Public Schools delays return to in-person learning for high school students

More than 100 cars steadily lined up at the COVID-19 testing center, Oct. 19, 2020, at Restoration Christian Fellowship at 15660 E. 6th Ave. in Aurora. The rapid-test is currently offered every Monday at this location. An increase in COVID-19 cases has prompted Aurora Public Schools to postpone bringing students in high schools across the district.
Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Aurora Public Schools high school students will continue to learn remotely until at least Nov. 13, the school district announced Monday.

Elementary and middle school students were brought back to campus last week, and high school students were slated to return Tuesday. 

“Considering high school students have not yet started in-person learning, we have made the difficult decision to delay the start of in-person learning for high school students,” Superintendent Rico Munn said in a message sent out to family members.

The delay is due to the continued increase in community transmission of COVID-19, Munn said. Both Adams and Arapahoe County have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks that has sparked concern at both the local and state level. The increase is especially pronounced in Adams County.

On Friday, the Tri-County Health Department instituted new public health orders in both counties, including limiting outdoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer and disallowing spectators at sporting events.

Last week, the district’s decision matrix for determining school safety dipped below the level indicating that in-person learning is safe. Cherry Creek’s COVID tracker also reached a warning level, but on Monday returned to indicating that in-person learning is safe.

In a video posted Monday, Cherry Creek Superintendent Scott Siegfried said he met with Tri-County officials to discuss the metric and what they see coming. However, he said that the metric would need to see a sustained, 7-14 day change for there to be a shift in the district’s school operations.

Aurora high school students will continue to learn remotely through at least Friday, Nov. 13, and a decision on whether students can be brought back after that will be made by Nov. 9. Off-season athletic workouts for high school students will continue.

The district will make a decision about whether preschool through eighth grade students need to return to remote learning as well by Thursday, Oct. 22.