By Ben Warwick

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The union representing Jefferson County teachers is urging the district to shift to a remote learning model for all students. The plea comes amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County.

In a statement, JCEA president Brooke Williams noted a vote among members clearly showed a desire to temporarily return to remote learning.

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“The time has come for our district to ​pivot towards safety ​as community spread of COVID-19 has passed the point in which it is safe for our students and staff to remain in person,”  Williams said.

The statement noted that many other districts have shifted to remote or mostly remote learning, including Denver Public Schools, Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek Schools, Boulder Valley Schools and others. Douglas County announced Tuesday night that while a final decision has not yet been made, they are strongly urging families to prepare for such a shift.

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JCEA is asking the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education to consider a fully remote learning model for all grades, asynchronous learning days on Fridays to allow for teacher planning days, a clearly defined threshold for a safe return to in-person learning, and an exception for Warren Tech High School, given their unique requirements. Warren Tech administration is requesting to work with administration to made the determination to operate remotely or in person based on state and local health guidelines.

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In a board meeting study session on Wednesday, Jeffco Public Schools discussed possible changes in their restart plan that would shift middle and high schoolers to a fully remote instruction model. Those changes included a possible shift to a fully remote learning model for high school and middle school students starting Monday, Nov. 16 and lasting for three weeks. The proposed changes for elementary school include a shift to four days a week of in-person instruction for with a continuous evaluation period.

An outbreak summary presented to the board on Wednesday morning listed 35 confirmed outbreaks on school properties, and another 19 currently under investigation.

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(credit: JeffCo Public Schools)

CBS4 has reached out to the district for comment on JCEA’s call for remote learning and has not heard back. As of Wednesday, CDPHE reports Jefferson County’s positivity rate is 10.5%. Jefferson County is in Level Orange on CDPHE’s dial. The district currently reports 460 active cases of COVID-19.

Ben Warwick