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Broomfield teacher spreads joy by dropping off care packages at students’ homes

Twenty-seven stops: that’s how many kindergarten teacher Jean Witt made over the weekend to let all of her students know just how much she cares.

“It’s really hard not to be able to see my students and for them not to see me or their friends,” Witt told FOX31.

She has been at Aspen Creek PK-8 in Broomfield since it opened 20 years ago. It was especially difficult for her because this is the last kindergarten class she’ll teach. Witt plans to retire at the end of the school year.

How Colorado school districts are preparing for the coronavirus threat

Colorado school districts have pledged to work closely with local public health authorities to keep students safe as federal health officials expressed mounting concern about the spread of coronavirus cases.

In general, districts plan to keep schools open unless public health authorities tell them to close. Some districts said they’re working on ways to continue instruction if schools close, but it’s not clear yet what that would look like — or if it will ever be necessary.

Centers for Disease Control officials said in a news briefing Tuesday that spread of the virus in the United States is inevitable and urged agencies, including school districts, to prepare plans to help slow the spread. Those could include dividing classes into smaller groups or closing school altogether. Those steps are not necessary yet, but school districts should be prepared to put such measures in place, officials said.




-Chalkbeat Colorado, Yesenia Robles 

When Teachers Are Stressed, Students Are Stressed. This Program Is Trying To Help Teachers Cope

So you’ve got 30 seventh graders in front of you. But something’s off today. One announces that today’s lesson “sucks.” Two shut their hoodies so tight only their noses show. One kid has her head on the desk. Another two are playing Fortnite on the sly. One just gets up and walks out of the room. 

Here’s a little known secret: There are times when teachers are so angry or frustrated or bewildered by their hormonally-charged students, the only thing they want to do is act the age of their students. Maybe roll their eyes, raise their voice, say something sarcastic. And when a teacher loses it, the stress in the whole classroom goes up.

Chronically stressed teachers mean stressed kids — classrooms full of kids with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to one studySignificant numbers of teachers also experience secondary traumatic stress.

The job of a teacher is unrelenting. Most teachers work between 60 and 80 hours a week. But here’s the problem: Not a lot of teachers feel they can ask for help.




-Jenny Brundin, CPR

5 student deaths in 40 days and Adams 12 school district is looking for solutions

The Adams 12 Five Star school district is looking for new ways to support students and tackle the complicated mental health crisis after several children in the community took their own lives, according to a letter from the superintendent

The letter, sent to parents and staff members in the district Friday, says that over the past 40 days, five children in the Adams 12 district have died. Several of those students took their own lives, superintendent Chris Gdowski’s letter says.

“Words fall woefully short in describing the depth of the pain and grief that parents, teachers, friends and neighbors have felt following these losses,” the letter reads.

He also encouraged parents to have meaningful conversations with their children about what is going on.

Denver school board mandates all-gender restrooms in schools and district facilities

Each school in Denver must now have at least one all-gender restroom, after the school board unanimously passed a resolution Thursday mandating the practice.

“It is time for us to lead with bold actions,” said Tay Anderson, the school board member who pushed for the resolution. He added that Colorado’s other school districts “are now going to have to follow what we are doing today in Denver.”

All Denver Public Schools buildings already have restrooms labeled “family restroom” or “unisex,” according to Jennifer Song Koeppe, the district’s director of planning, design, and construction. Per the resolution, the district would designate one of those restrooms as all-gender and put up new signage, she said.




-Chalkbeat Colorado,  Melanie Asmar 


Preschool just got cheaper in Denver

The Denver Preschool Program announced that it will increase the amount of tuition support available to Denver’s youngest learners for the 2020-2021 school year. Each participating family will receive 10.2 percent more in tuition support next year, meaning all eligible families will save even more on preschool tuition at the school of their choice, regardless of their income.

This marks the ninth year in a row that the Denver Preschool Program has been able to increase the amount of tuition support it offers. A typical family* can expect to receive $788/month in tuition savings during the 2020-2021 school year, with some families receiving as much as $1,000/month. 

“Research has proven time and again that children who attend high-quality preschool programs have a stronger foundation in early language, literacy and math skills and are more likely to graduate high school, attend college and succeed in their careers,” said Elsa Holguín, president and CEO of the Denver Preschool Program. “By making more funds available to help all families pay for preschool, we can help ensure more children enter kindergarten ready to reach their full potential.”

Through the Denver Preschool Program, tuition support is available to all families who reside within the City and County of Denver and have a child enrolled in a participating preschool program in their year before kindergarten. The amount of tuition support a family can receive varies based on a sliding scale that considers household income, their chosen school’s quality rating and the length of the child’s school day.

“The Denver Preschool Program was created with the goal of making preschool affordable for all Denver families, regardless of their income,” said Zach Hochstadt, chair of the Denver Preschool Program board of directors. “As the cost of living in the City and County of Denver continues to rise, increasing the amount of preschool tuition support we can provide to parents and caregivers is one way we can help ensure that families of all socioeconomic backgrounds can continue to afford to live in our beautiful, vibrant city.”

Funds are provided by a dedicated 0.15 percent sales tax, first approved by Denver voters in 2006 and reauthorized in 2014 to extend to 2026.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to explore their preschool options for next year now using the Denver Preschool Program’s online “Find a Preschool” tool. In addition, they can take advantage of the Denver Preschool Program’s online “Tuition Credit Calculator,” which allows them to estimate the amount of monthly tuition support they may be eligible to receive to lower the cost of preschool. The Denver Preschool Program accepts tuition support applications year-round.

For more information about the Denver Preschool Program, please visit or call 303-595-4DPP (4377).

Five takeaways from Colorado’s 2019-20 student census

Colorado’s public school enrollment nudged up this year — propelled by changes in full-day kindergarten, according to official numbers released Thursday.

Statewide enrollment this year grew by less than 0.2%, with 913,223 students enrolled this year — 1,687 more than in 2018-19. It’s a slightly bigger increase than last year.

Much of that is due to more students enrolled in full-day kindergarten, an expected development with the state making it free this year for all students.

Thursday’s data also show that 11.6% of public school students, or 106,238 students, were identified as students with special needs. That’s an increase of 4,157 students compared with the previous school year. Across districts, that change was mixed.

Slightly more students have been identified as homeless, and fewer are getting home-schooled.

Here are some of the bigger takeaways:




-Chalkbeat Colorado,  Yesenia Robles, Ann Schimke, Sam Park, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee.

The age of consent: Students can now get mental health treatment without parental permission

When Amy, a 16-year-old from Thornton, began to struggle with depression, she found herself alone with it.

“I missed a lot of school, like a few months of school, because of depression. I tried getting help, but my mom said, ‘You don’t have a reason to be depressed,’” Amy told lawmakers at a hearing last winter. “So I kind of stopped trusting her and wouldn’t tell her anything.”

She wasn’t 15 yet, old enough to access mental health care without parental permission, so she was stuck.

Many teenagers have found themselves in this situation, she said.

“There’s a lot of parents out there that don’t want their kids to get the help they need,” Amy said. 

Stories like hers drove lawmakers to pass a law last session that allows students as young as 12 years old to get mental health services without parental approval.

Find out why this is not yet offered in Denver…and the exceptions to the new law.




-Jenny Brundin, CPR

Across borders, through detention, and into Colorado classrooms: The journey of solo children

At 15, he made the long, frightening trek across Central America and the U.S.-Mexico border with a smuggler. Then he continued on an even longer journey, in search of his father in Colorado.

But what sent William into despair, and depression that pushed him to cut himself, happened in a U.S. holding center for migrant children: a long detention, a bout with tuberculosis, and the fear of never seeing his family again.

Every year hundreds of children are arriving in Colorado schools with uniquely challenging stories after crossing the border into the U.S. without their parents. William — who asked that we withhold his real name, out of fear of jeopardizing his quest for citizenship — was one of the earlier unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States after fleeing life-threatening conditions at home.






A look at charter school growth and distribution in Denver

Over the past five years, the number of Denver students attending district-run schools has decreased while the number of students in charter schools has grown.

Disagreement over the role of charters in the district marked the heated Nov. 5 school board election. Ahead of the new board members being sworn in Dec. 4, here’s a look at the number and location of charter schools in Denver.

It comes courtesy of three charts provided recently to the school board. The charts show not only the growth of autonomous schools, such as charter schools and district-run schools with “innovation status,” but also the distribution of autonomous schools around the city.

This mixture of school types in Denver Public Schools has been known as the “portfolio model” — or in the district’s phrasing, the Denver “family of schools.”

-Melanie Asmar, Chalkbeat Colorado