Cherry Creek School District to move forward with in-person learning next week

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE | The Cherry Creek School District will go forward with its plan to begin returning students to the classroom on Monday, Jan. 11, Superintendent Scott Siegfried announced in a Monday letter to district families.

Jan. 6-8 will be remote learning for all students, and elementary students will return to full in-person learning on Jan. 11, with middle and high school students returning to a hybrid model.

The plan was tentatively announced in December, but Siegfried said he would wait to see what COVID-19 data was like in Arapahoe County the first week of January before finalizing plans. 

In the letter, Siegfried said that current data shows “a significant decrease in incidence rate.”

The 14-day COVID-19 incidence rate in Arapahoe County on Jan. 4 is 490.4 per 100,000 people, according to the Tri-County Health Department’s online dashboard. That number is down from a high of more than 1,000 in November.

According to data from last semester, district officials say schools are best able to operate in-person when the community incidence rate is no higher than 500 to 750 per 100,000.

Whether holiday travel will lead to another bump in case rates remains to be seen. District spokesperson Abbe Smith said that the new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 that has been found in Colorado is not affecting the district’s plans to reopen.

Along with measures such as cohorting and mask wearing, district officials say they hope that testing of students will help cut down on the spread of the virus by identifying asymptomatic carriers. COVID-19 testing will be offered free of charge to all district students by COVIDCheck Colorado, which has been distributing tests to district employees throughout the first semester.

The district began vaccinating staff through a partnership with Centura Health after Gov. Jared Polis moved teachers higher up on the vaccine distribution priority list.

In Monday’s letter, Siegfried said that sped-up testing for teachers could mean that middle and high school students will be able to return to full in-person learning before the end of the school year.

“This will not happen immediately, but I will keep you informed on our progress,” Siegfried said.

He asked district families to do their part to keep transmission of the virus low.

“The lower our incidence rates, the easier it will be for us to operate schools during this time and keep schools open for students who choose in-person learning,” he said.

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