When DPS announced an “extended spring break” in early March, it still seemed possible that schools would reopen after a few weeks. As the coronavirus pandemic continued, Denver Public Schools began to create plans for every DPS student to study remotely from home, and then the order came in that all schools would operate remotely for the rest of the year.
North High School Prepares for Remote Learning
North High School’s principal Scott Wolf said they used the time to gather as much information as they could before the break ended. “When we got the word we were moving to remote learning, we gave families the opportunity to give feedback,” said Wolf in a telephone interview. One of the biggest takeaways he had was that students wanted some sort of structure to their days, and asked how they could still have social interaction, be it virtually. Wolf also said that while DPS is giving guidance, each school has created their own plans to tailor to their unique communities.
Wolf believes North is in a good position to start remote learning. “We’ve been one to one with devices for the past three years,” Wolf said, explaining that students already had Chromebooks, a type of basic laptop computer. One of their challenges, Wolf explained, is that some families don’t have reliable or unlimited access at home. Students would normally have access to libraries or other public wifi, but the district has also started giving hotspots to families in need and has been helping families sign up for free or low cost options.
While Wolf believes they are prepared, he said the school leadership wanted to be clear that not everything will be perfect, understanding they will fail in some ways, learn a lot, and move forward. “There’s a lot relying on the tech backbone,” Wolf said.
District 5 DPS Director Brad Laurvick agreed and said families should take the transition day by day and figure out what works best for them, saying his best advice is “offering ourselves a lot of grace. I don’t mean let the district off the hook; I mean as a parent.”
Remote learning also means that traditional in-person events, including graduation, are being postponed, but school leaders said they will make every effort to honor those students graduating this year. “We will have some ceremony when we can, whether it’s May, October, or next year,” Wolf said.
DPS Also Providing Meals Despite Shutdown
64% of DPS students qualify for free or reduced lunch according to the district, substantially higher than the state average of 40%. Recognizing that many families rely on the meals DPS provides, the district has food sites where families can pick up daily meals during the week or bags of food for use during the weekend. Wolf said that North was providing 250-300 meals a day, and over 400 bags of food for families each week.
North is one of dozens of locations families can come to. Laurvick said this district is quickly adding more locations and he recommended families check DPS’ website for the most up to date locations and times: https://www.dpsk12.org/coronavirus/food-distribution/
North Denver Schools Looking For Help
The expanded food delivery service isn’t fully funded by DPS’ normal budget. “DPS Foundation has raised over half a million dollars to provide more meals than the free and reduced program would support alone,” Laurvick said and encouraged those able to make a contribution to do so at the DPS foundation’s website https://dpsfoundation.org
For North High School specifically, there’s currently a need for people to help prepare bags of household items and do delivery to families in need who can’t come to a pick up location. People who are interested in volunteering should email Scott_Wolf@dpsk12.org
The school also welcomes monetary contributions to support North Denver families. They have raised over $7,000 to buy additional resource bags and grocery gift cards. More information is available on the school’s website https://north.dpsk12.org or click here to donate. Families looking for assistance are encouraged to text @covid19su to 81010 to get more information about resources available.