DENVER (CBS4) – Fourteen school districts across the Denver Metro area – serving some 451,000 children – announced Friday they are closing in-person learning for the remainder of the school year, going beyond the governor’s order to stay closed until April 30. Parents tell CBS4 they’re disappointed, but understand, and they’re trying to make the best of a tough situation.

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“I’m bummed, just because I’m a really active parent, so I actually like being at the school and seeing all of the other kids, interacting with other teachers and administration,” said Ariel Elliot, a mom of three students in Denver Public Schools. “So I think that’s the biggest piece that’s kind of dampening this whole thing is the social aspect of it.”

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Elliot says she’s been working hard to make sure her kids stay engaged and learning since the shutdown took place, implementing a regimented schedule for their week day routines. She’s also given them cooking classes, and the family goes on daily walks.

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“We’ve been really creative about things like that to really keep them engaged, and they understand that they’ve got to do the reading, writing, arithmetic, but then we make it fun too,” Elliot said.

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A schedule is something Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova says is crucial to students during this era of remote learning.

“Build a new routine at home, and stick with it,” Cordova said in a news conference Friday.

The non-profit Transform Education Now, or TEN, has helped Elliot and other families to build those schedules and come up with creative ideas for learning activities during the shutdown.

“We have started to create online platforms for parents to collaborate,” said Ariel Smith with TEN. “So we have a Slack channel, where parents can share resources and materials, to support their students while they’ve been at home.”

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TEN also talks to families about how to check in on their child’s progress while learning remotely.

“Because, that’s something that we believe is a really important step to this piece of remote learning is making sure that we know where students are when they start remote learning, and where they end,” Smith said.

But even with the assistance, John Johnson, a father of three, including a 17-year-old senior in high school, worries this pandemic is throwing a wrench in the seniors’ preparation for the next chapter in life.

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“My biggest concern is: is the academic piece going to be addressed in the right way, or are we just passing them on to the next level and they’ll have to pick up next year, college, or whatever, for whatever’s next?” Johnson said.

That’s something Cordova said the district is going to be cognizant of moving forward. Cordova said the district is also hammering out the final details of what’s in store for graduates, and will announce more graduation information next week.

The school system is also considering moving to a pass/fail grading system, but those details will be worked out next week, as well.

For more information on TEN resources, click here.

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Kati Weis