By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)– With many Denver Public Schools students returning to the classroom next week, a group of teachers and other employees held what they called a “vigil” outside the Denver Public Schools administration building.

(credit: CBS)

They claim DPS has no plan to keep them safe. And so they posted more than 100 messages to the administration on a fence outside the doors.

“No more COVID deaths” one sign read.

Heather Abreu is a teacher and a parent of two DPS students and very concerned about a return to her school.

“I contracted COVID in November upon entering school and I don’t think it’s safe unless we have very specific measures in place.”

(credit: CBS)

Denver Public Schools insists it is ok to return to the classroom, writing a statement to CBS4,” Our partners at Denver Health believe we are in a good position to safely welcome students back for in-person learning, as COVID conditions have improved…”

The statement continues with mention of the COVID-19 numbers have been dropping and “the experiences of other area districts during the first semester showed very low transmission schools.”

The concern by teachers and others is not just in Denver. On Wednesday, members of the Jefferson County Education Association hosted a protest outside their district’s administration building.

The association president Brooke Williams wants the district to wait until the county reaches Level Yellow to return to the classroom.

“As a parent we all share the frustration and I think we all want the kids back in school what we are trying to do is sustain it,” Williams said.

The group in Denver that held the “vigil” is asking for access to PPE if they must return. DPS says it has been distributed already.

Among those posting a sign were the two daughters of Heather Abreu.

With tears, one explained, “I lost my great grandmother to COVID and I don’t want to lose any other family members.”

(credit: CBS)

It is a difficult time for students wanting to be back in school with their teachers and friends, yet knowing could come at risk.

Denver Health on the current health conditions: www.dpsk12.org/denver-health-data-dashboard-update-jan-6/

Full Statement from DPS:

“We understand the concerns around our plans to reopen schools, and we have been working hard and collaborating with our educators and our health experts to ensure a safe reopening. Our partners at Denver Health believe we are in a good position to safely welcome students back for in-person learning, as COVID conditions have improved markedly over the past month, and the experiences of other area districts during the first semester showed very low transmission in schools.

“In addition, we have several measures in place to safeguard the health and safety of our staff and students. We offer free testing to all staff and students that allows our COVID Response Team to quickly track positive cases of COVID, notify close contacts when a case is identified and issue quarantines when necessary. Schools will also be following cohort guidelines and the “DPS 5,” which include a health screening before entering a building, wearing face masks, practicing good hygiene, maintaining physical distance and requiring adults to conduct all meetings virtually. We also have an ample supply of PPE equipment that we have been distributing to schools.”

Rick Sallinger