Colorado schools plan for students to retrieve belongings left behind when pandemic hit

As the academic year comes to an unconventional end, schools across Colorado are making plans for students to clean out their lockers, return equipment and pick up belongings left behind when the novel coronavirus pandemic abruptly ended in-person learning this spring.

And just like everything else during the pandemic, schools are figuring out how to make it work in different ways. In the Adams 12 Five Star Schools district, teachers and staff are this week cleaning out the lockers and desks of the district’s 39,000 students, bagging up each student’s stuff and labeling the bags.

Starting Monday, parents can collect their students’ bags through curbside pickup at their children’s schools, district communications manager Christina Dahmen said. Each school will set its own times and dates for the pickups, and likely will schedule them on a rolling basis organized by students’ last names.

The district is following social-distancing guidelines, Dahmen said.

“We have used this curbside process almost since we’ve been under the coronavirus and COVID situation, and it’s just been really positive for us,” she said. “It’s approved by public health and it’s worked well with our meal distribution, when we handed out devices — it’s just been a seamless process for families and staff.”

Schools will hang on to bags that aren’t picked up until school starts again in the fall and any remaining bags then can be returned to students, Dahmen said.

Similar plans are underway at Jefferson County Public Schools, where each school is making its own plan, and in Cherry Creek Schools, which started “checkouts” for students this week.

Denver Public Schools will use a variety of approaches to return students’ belongings, spokesman Will Jones said, and schools will make their own decisions on how and when to do that, with guidance from the district and health officials. By and large, Jones expects the process to happen in the fall, not immediately, he said.

Some schools will have staff bag students’ belongings, while others will allow students to go into school buildings to retrieve their own belongings, he said.

“Our school facilities are different in terms of size, number of students and layout,” Jones said. “A ‘one size fits all’ approach for all our facilities does not work.”

Parents of Denver students should look for additional details from their schools in the fall, he said, adding that district staff have been inspecting lockers to ensure they’re free from rotting food and other hazards.

In the Gilpin County School District, students will be allowed to go into their school buildings to return textbooks, laptops, uniforms and instruments and to clean out their lockers or desk, according to an announcement from the district.

No more than 10 people will be allowed in the schools at a time, and students will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing, according to the district. Seniors will start the process on Monday, while other grades will begin on May 26, following an hourly schedule by last name.

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