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Aurora Public Schools Delays Start, Outlines Plans For Return To Classrooms

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) -- Aurora Public Schools is pushing back the first day of school by one week. The district also outlined what the start of the 2020-21 school year may look like for APS -- including half-days for high schoolers, block schedules and student cohorts.

The delayed start will give the district an extra week to provide professional development for educators about "remote learning, curricular resources, health guidelines and more."

Most students in grades 1-12 will start school on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Students in kindergarten and preschool will start on Monday, Aug. 24.

RELATED: Denver Public Schools Considers Delaying Start Of School 1 Week

APS Superintendent Rico Munn released the following information about in-person learning, remote options, health guidelines and transportation:

Student Schedules
Students who attend elementary, middle and P-8 schools will all have the opportunity to attend school in person for full days every day through a cohort model. A cohort model means that a group of students stays with the same group of peers and staff members for the entire school day.

Students in high school will have the opportunity to attend school in person for half days every day through a cohort model and block schedule. This means that high school students would engage in learning through a combination of in-person and remote learning. Currently, APS is anticipating that students in grades 9 and 10 would attend in person in the mornings and then learn remotely in the afternoons. Students in grades 11 and 12 would learn remotely in the mornings and then attend in person in the afternoons. Once again, a cohort model means that a group of students stays with the same group of peers and staff members for the entire time they are learning in person.

Once again, some scheduling changes are subject to approval from the Aurora Education Association. Thus, once we have more detailed information about student schedules, we will share that with you.

Fully Remote Option for the 2020-21 School Year
We understand that some families have unique medical considerations and will want to keep their children at home every day to learn remotely. We will provide a fully remote option for families that temporarily choose to keep their children at home for the upcoming school year.

Health Guidelines
Face masks, coverings or face shields will be required for all staff while in school. Masks will also be required for all students in grades 6-12. In addition to considering public health guidance indicating lower transmission and infection rates for younger children, we recognize that students in preschool through fifth grade may struggle with keeping masks on or may fidget with their masks throughout the day. As such, masks or face coverings will be required for students in grades preschool through fifth grade when social distancing cannot be maintained.

We will need to limit movement within buildings and restrict interaction between cohort groups. This means that meals will likely be served in classrooms rather than having students transition to cafeterias. In addition, we will have increased signage throughout our schools about social distancing and frequent handwashing.

We will also be deep cleaning our buildings regularly and monitoring for symptoms in order to quickly isolate anybody who may be showing symptoms. Our nurses will continue to play a key role in providing information and sharing best practices with APS staff.

Lastly, we are exploring an opportunity to regularly test APS staff for COVID-19 throughout the school year. We are finalizing discussions with a local nonprofit, which would allow APS to cover the costs associated with testing staff.

Public health guidance limits the number of students we can transport on a bus to and from school. Only one student will be allowed per seat and all bus riders will be required to wear masks. This guidance will result in changes to who will be eligible for bus transportation during the upcoming school year. We will be sharing more detailed information about transportation in the coming weeks.

"We are still working to determine what waivers and approval from the Colorado Department of Education and the Aurora Education Association we will need before we can solidify our plans," the website states. APS expects to send out additional communications in the next month about further calendar changes.

"Please keep in mind that as public health guidance continues to evolve, our guidelines and expectations will change. We ask for your flexibility and support throughout the school year. For example, we will need to change what school looks like if cases in COVID-19 rise sharply in our community and/or if there is a vaccine produced during the school year," the APS website states.

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