By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Some Denver Public Schools students said goodbye to their classrooms, again, after the district announced the return to 100% remote learning for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. A rise in COVID-19 cases led to the decision and many parents are frustrated that their kids are paying the price.

(credit: CBS)

“My daughter broke into tears when she found out. She was crying when we brought her to school ‪Wednesday morning and that’s what lit the fire for me as a dad. It’s time to figure this out because this isn’t working for our kids,” said Tyler Carlson, a parent of four children in Denver Public Schools.

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Carlson is part of the group that started a petition calling on DPS to bring students back to the classroom. More than 1,000 people have signed the petition.

The petition states:

“If any district in the state should be in class right now, it should be DPS to stop our socio-economic education gap from becoming a canyon. DPS kids cannot afford the luxury of waiting around for DPS to wring its public health hands. We need educational justice.”

denver public schools protest

(credit: CBS)

Carlson and dozens of other families protested the extension of remote learning outside of DPS Headquarters Friday afternoon.

“It’s the lack of transparency. We’ve heard plan, after plan, after plan. I’m starting to think there is no plan,” said another DPS parent at the protest.

DPS says the health conditions for middle and high school students are not likely to improve enough before the end of the semester to allow for safe in-person schooling without the risk of frequent disruptions. Now, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade families are left wondering if they’ll be in the same boat.

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Earlier this week, DPS said schools are not what’s driving transmission in the community, but it is the students who are punished.

“Our overall community trend requires us to shift more of our staff and students into remote learning, as hard as it is,” said Susana Cordova, DPS Superintendent.

Some parents believe DPS is just a tool in the city’s coronavirus response plan.

(credit: CBS)

“‪The anger is not with our teachers. It’s not with our principals. It’s not even with our administrators. This is a societal problem. We have prioritized the adults over the kids,” said Carlson.

Parents at the protest noted that DPS not only teaches kids, but they feed children, and offer support to students many can’t get anywhere else. They can’t understand why their needs take a backseat, while adults are the one’s driving the virus.

‪“We can go out to dinner and go to bars and get our hair and nails done. Why in the world can’t our kids be in the classroom? It’s completely ridiculous,” said Carlson.

The changes go into effect on Monday. Here’s how it will look:

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  • Early childhood education (ECE) through second grade will continue to attend full-time, in-person learning as district officials cite critical in-person support, and in-person conditions for these students are low risk.
  • Grades 3-5 will stay open for in-person instruction through Friday, Oct. 30. These students will start remote learning ‪on Monday, Nov. 2 through the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Grades 6-12 will continue remote learning through the end of the semester in December in an effort to help middle and high school teachers and students to focus on learning.
  • Newcomer Centers, Remote-Learning Support Centers, and Special Education Center programs will continue to offer full-time, in-person learning for all grades through the rest of the first semester.

Cordova says concerned families should contact their school directly or the Family and Community Helpline at 720-423-3054 or

Tori Mason