What Does The Fox Say Newsletter 7/18/2020

Posted 07/18/2020

July 18, 2020

Dear Inspire Families,

I hope you are well and enjoying your summer. 

I am sharing an update with you following Superintendent Cordova’s message yesterday, which can be found with additional Return to School information here: https://www.dpsk12.org/coronavirus/return-2020/. I had this message ready to send earlier yesterday and have updated it after the Superintendent’s message came out, as we now know that the start of in person learning will be delayed until at least September 8th. Remote learning will begin August 24th and Early Childhood Education will not begin until the start of in-person learning or upon further guidance from the district or state. 

The Inspire Instructional Leadership Team will begin working to update our plans for the initial in person learning and the safe return to in-person learning this week. 

Some of you may have seen (in Chalkbeat or other posts) that DPS released 61 pages of Return to School guidelines related to in person learning to school leaders last week. This draft (and changing) guidance was intended by DPS central office to inform school leaders so that they could start planning and personalizing the details for individual schools in order to thoughtfully relay the information from the district broadly and at the school level specifically. Knowing that the information was released to the public, I want to make sure you know that the Inspire Leadership team is diving into this work with optimism and care. 

I understand that it is super-uncomfortable as a parent to not have all the details you need to finalize decisions about in-person learning vs. remote, to purchase supplies as you start seeing the displays go up in stores and to begin preparing your children for what is ahead. I am experiencing that same tension as a mother and empathize with all of you. 

I am sharing with you what I can right now and will continue to do so. Ultimately, our team needs time to plan for the details that we now know we are working from. We are working as quickly and thoughtfully as we can, collaborating with other school leaders and processing our own emotions around this. 

As soon as we have plans or draft plans ready to share, we will provide you more specific information. We can continue to expect expect changes ahead as DPS responds to changes in pandemic guidance.

Here is what we currently know and can share with you:

To-Do Items: Registration, Masks, Remote Learning 

    • Registration Continues July 27th: All families that haven’t done so need to register by updating the “Annual Family Update” which is available beginning July 27th. If you have moved in the last six months, you will need to upload a proof of address. Please visit our website for additional information regarding registration: http://inspire.dpsk12.org/registration/
    • DPS Survey: 83% of our families have filled out the DPS return to school survey. Thank you! 17% did not fill out this survey. Inspire and DPS will continue to message families as school guidance is updated. 


  • Masks: Students will be provided with 2 masks. While they can take mask breaks outdoors, we do need to start building our mask stamina now in order to be able to keep them on in class. Your help at home is appreciated. When we build reading stamina, we set goals (starting with small increments of time and building up to longer ones), time ourselves and celebrate when we reach our goals. Perhaps there are fun activity rewards (like a bike ride) students can earn when they meet a mask-wearing goal with you at home. There are ways to make this bizarre situation fun!
  • Remote Learning:We now know that you may begin to prepare your children for starting out with remote learning. 
  • Technology Distribution for New Families: Our staff will message the community when we have planned the details for technology device distribution to families who are new to the school or did not receive a device for remote learning in the spring.


Updates for In Person Learning

    • Morning Temperature Checks: When we return to in person learning, will have morning temperature checks. Students with a temperature above 100.4 or who exhibit Covid-19 symptoms, will be required to stay home (or be picked up if the symptoms begin at school). We will share details about morning drop off and the screening process when we have them.
    • Response to Positive Tests: If a student tests positive, that student, the other up to 30 students in that cohort and each teacher that instructed that student will move to quarantine for 14 days (14 calendar days, not 14 school days) . During this time, students will receive instruction virtually from Inspire, not from the centrally run DPS school. If a teacher tests positive, any cohorts that the teacher is instructing will move to learning at home for 14 days. If a family member tests positive, but the student does not, the student will stay home for 14 days. If more than 4 students test positive, in addition to the responses above for each cohort impacted, the school would be closed for 3 days for cleaning. 
    • Summarizing Parent Response Data: With 55% of families across DPS responding, in all of DPS, 23.7% students (Currently, 13,000 students) are opting for virtual learning at the DPS run virtual school. 392 out of 458 enrolled Inspire students’ families filled out the DPS survey for planning next year. 83.4% of those students will participate in learning in person and 16.1% opted for virtual learning. We do not have an update on class sizes or teacher assignments prepared for you as the team needs time to review the student level data and balance class size based on this new data. Student class lists were entered tentatively into IC in May and will continue to change as Round 2 choice and survey data comes in. The school will formally announce class/teacher assignments when they are ready. While it is ideal to be able to share the announcement of your child’s teacher with your child in advance, it is worse for us to announce teachers and then have to change the class assignments after you and your children start feeling attached. With the changing circumstances and data, this will be announced very close to the start of learning in order to prevent change and disappointment. 
    • Transportation: Please stay tuned for district and school updates on transportation logistics pending the return to in person learning.


  • Special Services: English Language Development, Special Education and Gifted and Talented services will be provided during remote learning and in person learning. Upon return to in person learning, the structures for these services are still being planned based on health guidance. The role of the Gifted and Talented itinerant teacher will be primarily evaluation, parent communication and teacher support for planning learning for GT students. Upon the selection of a new principal, the principal will gather feedback from families and support the teachers and itinerant  GT teacher in redesigning GT programming for the longer term.


Making the Choice for Virtual or In-School

We get asked about this quite a bit, so maybe some additional clarification is in order. Families that opt for virtual learning will:

  • Attend a virtual school run by DPS (not Inspire. We do not have the capacity as an Inspire staff nor authorization from DPS run an Inspire-led version of remote school )
  • Keep their seat at Inspire
  • Be required to attend the virtual school through December

If families change their mind before school starts, one way or the other, it is our belief that students would not be not locked into what they put on their survey. We do know that students who choose the district-run remote learning option will be locked in to that option through the end of the semester. Another thing we are asked is doing a year of home school or private school and keeping their place at Inspire. If a student disenrolled from the district, they would lose their seat at Inspire and would need to choice back in during the school choice round 1 for the following year. 



  • Definitive Start Date for In Person learning: Our regularly scheduled start date was August 17th. On Friday DPS announced a one-week delay with a new start date of August 24th for remote learning and the expectation that teachers will start reaching out to students and families the week of August 17th. The in person start date will not be prior to September 8, 2020 and is TBD. 
  • Testing: We have not yet heard of any COVID-19 testing initiatives from the district to support a safe return to in person learning.

Plans in Progress/Messaging Coming When Available


  • Morning Drop Off and Afternoon Pick Up Procedures for 
  • Specifics of the Remote Learning Schedule or Structure (We found out that this was a reality yesterday. It will take time for our team to plan for the details and updates to our Spring 2020 remote learning plans. We will get you the information as soon as it is ready. For those of you considering working at home and childcare/supervision for instruction, please know that we will continue with a model that includes live and recorded teaching, office hours with the teacher and independent work time. 
  • Supplies Lists (Due to changing learning configurations/health guidance)
  • Specifics for food service protocols for in person learning
  • Student Cohorts and Supervision for in person learning
  • Daily Schedule for in person and remote learning
  • Remote learning student device distribution for new Inspire families
  • Detailed plans for GT, ELD and Special Education Structures (as a reminder, all teachers and special service providers return to work August 10th, so these plans will not be finalized until these team members have time to update their plans and collaborate with the team)



Supporting Teachers and Staff

I am sharing the Lead Partner’s message to the Denver Green School community, as I think Kartal captured my sentiments exactly:

It is fair to say that all of our teachers have a deep passion to help our students achieve their dreams, to end inequity and to be a dependable colleague. It is for these reasons, that as of today, all our teachers are planning on teaching in school. It is also fair to say that many of our teachers are scared about coming back to work. Unfortunately, the rising cases in the sunbelt and the politicization of return to school has not helped. As Lead Partners, we kind of view educators as essential workers, like firefighters and nurses, and when we do come back to school, it will be helpful for families to join some initiatives we are planning to ensure that our teachers know many families appreciate the important work being done. Expect more information on this come August.


I am grateful that DPS has outlined a cautious approach that prioritizes safety with the goal of returning to in-school learning when it is safe to do so. 


I am ready to be flexible in my leadership of our team and community as we respond to health and safety guidance. This is by far the strangest moment in my career to date, yet my hopes are high. Inspire has the strongest staff I have had the pleasure of working with and we have an incredible community behind us and our students. We will make this a joyful year of learning!


Speaking of joyful – it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to our Dean of Student Culture, Mr. Dorian Bennett. I am so excited to have Mr. Bennett joining our team!  I am including his introduction letter below.


Stay well and have fun with your kiddos!


Dr. Melissa Peterson

Interim Principal 

Inspire Elementary


Hello Inspire Elementary School Community,


My name is Dorian Bennett. It is my belief that relationships are the keys to success for students as relationships create the foundation for a successful student’s path. I am humbled and honored to devote my time, my energy and my effort to ensuring that the students feel confident, comfortable and complete as they progress in this beautiful world. During my personal time, I am rejuvenated by spending time with my partner. In addition, I enjoy a good book, writing poetry and do-it yourself (DIY) projects. I am the Dean of Culture.  My job is to help students, faculty, and staff in their efforts to be successful. I look forward to joining the July CSC and PTO meetings and getting to know our community.


Here’s a little more about how I do that in my role. This position was added for the 2020 school year to help define, implement, and oversee all aspects of the school culture. “School Culture” can be defined as: “The sum of the values, cultures, safety practices, and organizational structures within a school that cause it to function and react in particular ways.”


The following responsibilities were strategically planned for the Dean of Culture prior to the roll-out of DPS Return to School guidance this week. Like all staff, my top priority as we start the school year will be ensuring student and staff safety in alignment with DPS guidance.

At Inspire Elementary School, in addition to Return to School priorities at the start of the 2020-2021 school year, my responsibilities include (but are not limited to) the following:


Behavior Support/Discipline

  • Collaborate with staff on annual revisions to The Inspire Way
  • Lead BOY roll-out for all school-side protocols
  • Documentation: IC Entry all Incidents, parent/staff communications, collaborate with SEL team for accountability on all required reports, risk assessments etc
  • Follow Up all Incidents: students, parents, classroom teacher, other staff
  • Serve on the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) team, helping students to succeed.
  • Collaborate with SPED teacher/SPED partner regarding IEP behavior support  implementation
  • Forge a new culture of conflict management and problem-solving based in restorative values and principles
  • Facilitate mediations and restorative solution circles between students, faculty, staff, and parents as needed.


  • Forge positive relationships with all students, parents, and staff
  • Lead Whole Child Team
  • Serve/Rotate presence on Culture-Related Committees: Student Culture Committee, Garden Committee and others
  • Support accountability efforts determined by committees re implementation
  • Attend Stakeholder meetings/events
  • Work closely with students, staff and faculty to improve academics, discipline, and general school culture
  • Design and support Character Education in all K-5 classrooms, as well as small focus groups
  • Assist with the success of all community members using the acronym A-U-T-O, as I will go Around-Under-Through-Over for the Inspire Elementary School community.



  • Serve on Operational Leadership Team
  • Manage (Plan/Message/Supervise) 
    • Arrival
    • Dismissal
    • Lunch
    • Recess
  • Lead Discovery Link Partnership
  • Co-Lead Facilities Support
  • Collaborate with Scheduling Committee on Schedule
  • Shared Campus
    • Support Office Staff with Scheduling 
    • Collaborate with principal re Shared Campus Meetings & Follow Up



  • Supervise assigned classified staff TBD
  • Students: Recess and Lunch



Thank you for choosing Inspire Elementary School. I am inspired to join this dynamic team of educators.  I wish you and your student(s) the very best of fun, challenge, growth, and success this year! 


With Gratitude,

Dorian D. Bennett

Dean of Culture