Dec 14, 2022 - News

Denver to close online elementary, marking pandemic milestone

Illustration of a notebook and computer juxtaposed with handwritten and typed abc's on the devices

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Denver will stop offering its online elementary school after this year as student enrollment declines and COVID-19 fears subside.

Why it matters: Denver Public Schools created the online learning hub in fall 2021 as an alternative to in-person learning, and its closure announced Monday marks a milestone in the pandemic.

Details: Denver Online Elementary, known as DOLE, served 550 students last year, but enrolled about 200 this term, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.

  • District officials say vaccines are making COVID-19 a lesser threat, and superintendent Alex Marrero wants students in "the learning environment we know is proven to work best."

The other side: Parents lobbied to keep the online school available for students who struggle in traditional classrooms or have health conditions. Among those currently enrolled in the online elementary school, 85% are students of color.

What they're saying: "I will not be sending my children to in-person school," parent Christin Finch told the school board. "The stakes are life and death."

Between the lines: The district considers online elementary learning a program, not a school, so it doesn't need a school board vote to close.

  • The online middle and high school — which existed before the pandemic — will remain available.

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