By Kati Weis

DENVER (CBS4) — Denver Public Schools will offer full in-person learning for all students in the fall, officials announced Friday. Students will have a virtual learning option if they don’t feel comfortable going back. Masks required for students and staff, unless there’s a medical exception.

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“I believe together we can keep our community safe and healthy and welcome students back into the classroom,” said Superintendent Susana Cordova during a Friday news conference.

Cordova said the decision came after surveying parents and staff, consulting local health officials, and reviewing how school systems in other countries have been able to hold in-person classes during the pandemic.

Other safety measures the school system plans to take are removing shared tables and replacing them with individual desks, and purchasing plastic or acrylic sheets for teachers’ desks. Those purchases will be paid for with CARES Act money, according to Cordova.

Cordova said in the event someone does contract the coronavirus, all students and staff who have come in close contact with that person will be required to stay home in quarantine for at least 14 days.

“Our goal is to be very quick and agile in responding to the changing conditions if there is a confirmed case,” Cordova said.

DPS believes these protocols will help keep students safe, while allowing them the benefits of going to school.

“Our students depend on our schools for access and opportunity to learning, resources around mental health, the support that they get from their teachers on the incidental aspects on growing up,” Cordova said.

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Some school athletics will begin on July 6. DPS is still evaluating whether or not to offer some other extra-curricular activities, like choir.

Cordova said the district will follow the Colorado High School Activities Association safety guidelines while reinstating athletics and activities.

Cordova also said the school system considered implementing a hybrid model, where some students would stay home, and others would go to school, but ultimately decided that wouldn’t work.

“We have really thought about, particularly with the hybrid model, which would have allowed us to have potentially fewer students in school. We don’t actually think that will create a safer environment, because on the days that students are not with us, there’s no guarantee that they would be following the safe practices that they would be in school,” Cordova said.

Kati Weis