By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – After months of learning from home, many Denver Public Schools students are excited to return to their classrooms. Early learning through 5th grade DPS students returned to in-person learning Monday, but many families aren’t ready to leave their virtual classrooms.

“About 60% of families opted for in-person learning and 40% will stay remote,” said Winna Maclaren, Media Relations Manager for DPS.

(credit: CBS)

For months, health officials have said schools are not the source of COVID-19 transmission in Denver. The district still implemented several safety measures to minimize the spread.

“We have outfitted our buses with bio-safe disinfecting lights. We have our operations team doing thorough cleanings in our buildings,” said Maclaren. “They’ll have health screenings before entering the building, frequent handwashing for hygiene and face masks.”

Maclaren says ventilation system upgrades were also completed and class sizes have been reduced.

Unlike most parents, Maria Gomez walked inside Valdez Elementary School with her son Monday morning. Gomez is also a teacher, willing to risk her health for students, again.

(credit: CBS)

“Of course I am worried, but you know we are going to do the best we can do. We are conscious of what happened, but we need to try,” said Gomez.

Last week, many teachers were frustrated to learn they’ve been pushed back on the state’s vaccine distribution plan. DPS says high-risk staff can make accommodation requests for remote assignments.

(credit: CBS)

“We have been working with all of our educators in making our plans for reopening to ensure we are doing all that we can for the health and safety of students and staff,” said Maclaren.

In statement to CBS4, DPS said:

“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.”

On Jan. 29, other secondary students will start to phase into in-person learning.

“Every school is different and due to the cohort restrictions we have in place, some secondary students may have a hybrid schedule,” explained Maclaren.

The goal is to have all students whose families have elected in-person learning back in the classroom by Feb. 1.

DPS will continue to offer 100% remote learning as option for all K-12th grade students throughout the second semester.

Tori Mason