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2020-21 School Scenarios


As the epidemiological data changes over time, it is important to plan for a  variety of fall learning approaches. We are hopeful that there will be enough data to have more flexible approaches by communities next school year, so please keep that in mind as you read the requirements and guidance.

We also recognize that there are risks or trade-offs to the different opening scenarios, with many different factors and priorities to weigh in decision making. For example, remote learning scenarios may be a barrier to a child’s ability to engage in learning, master content and feel connected to the school community. Simultaneously, in-person learning may lead to health risks for staff and students to varying degrees.  In this unprecedented time, parents will have to decide what learning environment they are comfortable with and  local schools and districts will weigh the different risks and family input as they decide on the choices and options available.

Decisions about whether in-person instruction is suspended may be made in a variety of ways: 

  1. A statewide Executive Order or Public Health Order may suspend in-person instruction (as was the case in the spring of 2020) or otherwise determine requirements for the ways in which schools can physically operate. If an Executive Order or Public Health Order is not in place, then 

  2. Local public health departments may issue a local health order suspending in-person instruction at a site or for an entire district or otherwise determine requirements for the ways in which schools can physically operate. If a local health order is not in place, then move to #3 below.

  3. A school district, in collaboration with the local health department, may decide to suspend in-person instruction or otherwise determine requirements for the ways in which schools can physically operate due to the number of cases in the school or community.

Remote, in-person, and physically distanced approaches, as well as rolling starts and stops to in-person learning are provided for district and school considerations as they design their fall opening plans. 


Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider the prerequisites for remote learning, ie, devices for every student, internet and connectivity access, safe place to learn during the day.
  • Consider students’ feasibility to access synchronous remote learning opportunities during the day, especially for students who may need to care for a sibling(s), work, and/or share devices with other household members. Consider developing asynchronous remote learning options to support students needing an alternative. Please see resources below to support asynchronous remote learning.
  • Consider how to provide translation of remote learning assignments for students learning English as a Second Language. Both the ESSER and CRF funds may be used to support translation services for English Learner instruction during remote learning days. There is also a state contract with Language Link that many districts use for translation services.


Provide Options

Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider continuing online instruction full-time for some students, especially those identified with underlying health conditions, undergoing disease treatment, or those with family members who are at-risk. Provide remote/ online options for families requesting to continue remote learning.
  • Consider on-demand virtual tutoring for students to ask questions and receive support.
  • Consider the Online Options available during the 2020-21 school year.
  • Consider the services offered by Colorado Empowered Learning (CEL) the state-supported supplemental online program that provides Colorado districts, BOCES, and charter schools access to low cost, standards-aligned online courses on demand, teacher professional development and district technical assistance for creating blended and online learning models. 
  • Consider giving instructions for hands-on projects with supplies that can be picked up; online movement classes like dance and yoga.
  • Consider on-demand lessons/tutoring, such as Khan Academy or ZEARN. Khan Academy would be aligned to the Common Core in English and Math, so there would be some strong alignment to the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If schools return to remote learning, consider how educators may virtually meet with students one-on-one at least once a week to ensure students are learning and comfortable with projects and assignments.
  • Consider project-based learning, applied learning, capstones, etc.
  • Consider CDE's Resource List for Learning from Home. Resources are provided by content and grade level.
  • Consider how remote group-oriented work may occur to build essential skills like collaboration and communication, as well as assist with maintaining a level of connectedness with other students.
  • Consider Data Privacy when planning for remote learning.  

Community and Partner Resources

Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider access to public libraries’ remote resources.
  • Consider access to Colorado Digital Learning Solutions - the state-supported supplemental online program that provides Colorado districts, BOCES, and charter schools access to high quality online courses that supplement their existing course offerings in a 21st century learning environment. Students can use these courses for credit retrieval, advanced courses, curriculum enhancement and/or to resolve scheduling conflicts. CDLS can supplement your local middle school and high school curriculum with a wide variety of courses designed for students in all performance ranges, from at-risk to advanced students.
    • CDLS provides elective courses, including career technical education courses for career exploration.

Work-based Learning

Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider virtual internships/job shadows with a remote student work-plan.
  • Consider community partners’ resources and opportunities that already exist:
    • Apprenticeship Directory, Sector Partnerships , Chamber of Commerce, Business
    • Services Representatives within your local workforce center, Local Community College
      • Business Services, Local COHelps liaison
    • Career Conversations Training for staff from Colorado Education Initiative
    • Colorado Succeeds Roadmap to Work-Based Learning

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If schools ensure that Executive Orders and County Health Orders are followed, in-person learning may occur, but will need to look different than traditional in-person learning. Districts should work with their local county health department, if they are considering suspending in-person instruction without an Executive Order or statewide Public Health Order. 

Guidance provides recommendations for “how to” implement a statute or rule. These recommendations in this toolkit are based on best practice and provide direction for how to operationalize the requirements set forth in various executive orders and public health orders. All efforts should be made to follow the recommendations when feasible.
  • Safety Protocol Reminders:
    • Screen staff, students and essential visitors, based on public health recommendations, safely, respectfully, as well as in accordance with any applicable privacy laws or regulations. Confidentiality should be maintained.
    • Screening/temperature checks for all staff and students upon arrival. Start with a phased approach. First 24 hours screen employees. Then 48-72 hours use staggered attendance to train and test procedures for students.
Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider Cohorting students by the same class/group of students so that they function independently as much as possible from other students. Each group of students would recess together, eat together, have passing time together, etc. Creating cohorts where students remain together and the teachers move between classes could reduce contact with other students and slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Consider smaller group instruction for students needing to catch up the most.
  • Consider prioritizing younger students or students with special learning needs for small group in-person instruction. However, consider the importance of a positive school connection for secondary students' well-being."
  • If students are expected to mask, implement an influencer campaign "masks are cool".

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Small, in-person learning with remote learning rotations/staggers

Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Parents and students may have very different reactions and comfort levels with school in 2020-21. Consider how to maximize choice for students and families in where students learn. Consider having students who are best at remote learning continue to learn from home to give "space" to those who need in-person learning most while maintaining physical distancing.

  • Consider 1-2 days of remote learning each week and focus in-person learning to deep instructional techniques.
  • Consider bringing younger students (P-6) or students with special learning needs (P-12) back to in-person learning spread out across school buildings, while older students who may be better able to handle online learning stay at home. This could assist with some childcare needs for younger students, allowing parents to return to work.
  • Consider what is most important to do in-person, and then what is easier to do remotely (self-guided learning (for older students), projects, other practice tasks, specific content areas).
  • Consider a Cohort-Based Schedule to group cohorts of students and staff on the same hallway/floor, or having the same group of students stay with the same staff (all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children) and rotating the teachers instead of the students. Restrict mixing between groups as much as possible.
  • Consider assigning siblings to same day schedules to accommodate family needs.
  • Consider 1-way hallways.
  • Consider rotating teachers, instead of transitioning students, even at the secondary level.
  • Consider student staggered schedules to decrease the number of people in the building allowing for physical distancing. Below are a few example schedules to generate ideas.

Staggered Attendance Schedule Examples:



A/B Model (1)

  • 1/2 the students report on "A" days(Mon/Tues)
  • 1/2 the students report on "B" days (Wed/Thur)
  • Friday is PD day or remote options day.
  • Deep cleaning between Tuesday and Wednesday occurs for new groups of students.

A/B Model (2)

  • Same as version 1 above, except Wednesday is the PD day or remote options day to allow for extended cleaning time before new groups of students arrive Thursday.

A/B Model (3)

  • 1/2 the students report on "A" days (Mon/Tues)
  • Wednesday is in-person specials and/or social emotional learning programming.
  • 1/2 the students report on "B" days (Thur/Fri)

A/B/C Model

  • Monday is remote learning day for all students
  • 1/3 of the students report Tues, Wed, Thurs
  • Friday is a PD day

A/B/C/D model

  • Same as the A/B/C model above, except Friday is a is an additional in-person learning day for special population students needing support.

A/B Alternating Weeks model

  • Group A attends in-person on week 1, 3, 5……
  • Group B attends online on week 1, 3, 5…...
  • Group A attends online classes on week 2, 4, 6…
  • Group B attends in-person on week 2, 4, 6……..
A/B/C Alternating Weeks model

Week 1

  • Group A- attends in person
  • Group B- remote learning
  • Group C- remote learning

Week 2

  • Group A- remote learning
  • Group B- attends in person
  • Group C- remote learning

Week 3

  • Group A- remote learning
  • Group B- remote learning
  • Group C- attends in person

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Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Plan for more staggered shut downs with a minimum of 24 hours to possibly several weeks of closure and then a re-open.
    • Consider the different instructional needs in this scenario and how to most seamlessly transition in and out of in-person instruction.

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Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.
  • Consider stipends for staff to build the instructional planning infrastructure between in-person and remote learning environments.
  • Consider using a district/school Learning Management System (LMS) for all lessons whether in-person or remote to assist with toggling between in-person and remote learning, if it occurs.
  • In advance, create communications for staff and families to explain how to make it safe to have students back at school after the 'stay at home' policy.

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  • Information coming soon

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