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School board: Don’t send your kids to pandemic pods

Denver’s seven-member board of education has posted on its website a lengthy letter urging parents not to enroll their children in so-called pandemic pods, because doing so could “exacerbate academic and opportunity gaps among our children.”

Some parents are forming pandemic pods because Denver Public Schools is not returning to in-person instruction until October at the earliest. Many of those parents are on the more affluent side of the DPS spectrum.

A parent who chooses to send his or her child to a pandemic pod could create unintended negative consequences for the school district and the family, the letter says:

“By not enrolling your children, class-sizes will grow and teacher positions could be eliminated due to the loss in funding. It’s an opportunity to support our whole community by keeping people employed who also know what they’re doing. You may also forfeit your child’s seat at the school. It is critical that you enroll your child.”

“It’s also important to recognize the impact of unenrolling children from their school and/or hiring private teachers. We are deeply concerned about the pods’ long-term negative implications for public education and social justice,” the board writes.

“Consider the equity implications of creating or joining pandemic pods or micro-schools. If you choose to participate in a pod, please do not hire DPS teachers, paraprofessionals or special service providers for assistance in teaching and learning. This puts educators in uncomfortable positions, jeopardizes their employment, creates undue liability and pulls them away from students that need them most.”

People who do form pods in their home should be careful to lock away weapons and prescription drugs, and perform background checks on any adults who will come into contact with children, the letter says. Everyone involved should wear masks and observe social distancing protocols, it adds.