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Joy and excitement as CCSD students return to In-Person and Hybrid learning

Mascot and principal welcome students to Mission Viejo Elementary Staff member with welcome back sign "I missed you, Mr. Pearson!"

 That was the greeting from one student as she entered Mission Viejo Elementary for the first time since before Thanksgiving.

 "I missed you too!" replied Principal André Pearson as he and the rest of the Mission Viejo staff welcomed students back to In-Person learning on Jan. 11. The atmosphere was festive, with music playing and the school’s mascot, Rocky the Roadrunner, dancing and sharing high fives with excited students. Similar scenes were found at elementary schools across the Cherry Creek School District’s 108 square miles.

"We're so excited to welcome all our learners and leaders to a new semester this week!” Fox Hollow Elementary Principal Ashley Gray said. “We have missed them and can't wait to start learning!"

More than 16,000 elementary students returned to In-Person learning on Jan. 11, after three days of full Remote learning the previous week. Some 24,000 middle and high school students also began the second semester with three days of full Remote learning last week, but on Monday, they moved to a new, enhanced Hybrid learning schedule. It features a full day of remote, synchronous classes on Mondays, followed by two days of In-Person learning and two days of remote, asynchronous learning with students divided into two cohorts. More than 9,000 Cherry Creek Elevation and K-5 Online students began their second semester as normal on Jan. 6.

Welcome back banner COVID-19 precautions, including face-coverings, physical distancing and frequent hand washing are still in place to protect the health and safety of students, staff and families. Cherry Creek Schools has also implemented additional health and safety strategies. They include optional, no-cost saliva testing for elementary students and staff, to allow for early identification of COVID-positive children and adults who could also be asymptomatic, creating a safer, more operationally feasible environment. Middle and high school students and staff can also access no-cost, drive-through COVID testing through COVIDCheck Colorado at two district sites: the Stutler Bowl and the Instructional Support Facility. Get more information about all of these strategies here.

Dakota Valley Elementary mascot welcomes student In addition, CCSD nurses and health techs received the first of two COVID-19 vaccinations earlier this month, and teachers and school staff are scheduled to receive the vaccinations, which are optional, in late February or early March.

Cherry Creek Schools began the 2020-21 school year with 12 weeks of In-Person learning for elementary students and Hybrid learning for middle and high school students, before a spike in COVID-19 cases forced the district to move to full Remote learning in mid-November.

The district is committed to maintaining In-Person and Hybrid learning as long as it is safe to do so. Data from the first semester of the 2020-21 school year showed that there is little spread of COVID-19 in schools due to district-wide implementation of multiple overlapping safety strategies. Instead, community spread of the virus can impact schools: when COVID-19 rates reach a certain threshold – over 500 COVID cases per 100,000 people – it becomes increasingly difficult to operate schools due to staffing concerns and high quarantine numbers.

But for now, the focus is on a successful second semester of learning, growing and achieving, no matter the educational model.

“We really want to continue to build a sense of community,” Sunrise Elementary Principal Sarah Famularo said as she welcomed students on Monday morning. “We worked hard to keep up our outreach as we did Remote learning, but it’s so different when our kids are here, in person. We are all so excited to safely get back to learning in a conscientious way.”

See more photos from the first day of second semester on the Cherry Creek Schools Facebook page.

Posted 1/11/2021.