Principal’s Update — January 3, 2022

Posted January 3, 2022

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January 3, 2022 

Dear McKinley-Thatcher Families – 

We hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and have enjoyed time with your loved ones! The stunning news of the devastating fires in Boulder gives us all pause to count our blessings and to find ways to support others in our Colorado community. Many of us have friends and family who were directly affected by these fires, and we offer our condolences. The rapid mobilization of support for the people who have lost so much has been inspiring and offers us hope as we enter this new year.  

There are three important sections to this update:  Omicron Updates, SchoolChoice Info, and Principal Residency / Acting Principal News. Please read it thoroughly to be ready for this semester! 

Omicron Update

In light of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, we wanted to provide you with an update on our plans for returning to school tomorrow. As we see increased transmission of COVID-19 throughout our community, it is important that we continue to use our layered approach to mitigating transmission. This means using multiple protective measures layered on top of one another to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

We also want to ask for your continued flexibility and understanding. Due to increased community transmission, we need to be prepared to adjust quickly and face potential staffing shortages. With the likelihood of more staff members and students testing positive for COVID-19 and needing to isolate at home, we may need to transition certain classrooms or the whole school to remote learning. Please know that we are committed to providing as much in-person learning as possible. However, we will certainly face challenges over the coming weeks and may need to make changes quickly.

Please read through our planning steps and important information below. 

Face Masks Still Required Indoors for All Students & Staff & Recommended Outdoors

Face masks will continue to be required for all students and staff at school. Please encourage your students to wear their masks properly (covering both their noses and mouths) while at school. This is critically important to their safety and the safety of others. We know that this COVID-19 variant has impacted children at a higher rate than previous strains, so we are recommending that all students and staff wear their masks outdoors as well. Most students already wear their masks outside, but please discuss this with your children to ensure their safety.  

Seating Charts Required In Classrooms & Cafeteria 

We require that students stay in their seats as much as possible within the classroom and that staff members maintain accurate seating charts throughout the school day, including lunch. This allows for more precise contact tracing to minimize the number of students needing to quarantine due to COVID exposure. The week before Winter Break, we added additional tables and chairs to the cafeteria and increased space between seats. We have about 4.5 feet between students for lunch, and snacks are eaten outdoors. 

Quarantine Information

We will notify those who are identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive as soon as we receive this information. The close contacts will be required to quarantine unless they have been fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means that two weeks have passed since you received your full dose of COVID-19 vaccine. A PCR test is still required to return to school as soon as possible if a student is out sick with symptoms or because of COVID exposure. We cannot accept a rapid test result in this situation. 

What Families Can Do At Home

We will continue to remain vigilant with our safety protocols and hygiene practices and do our very best to keep students and staff safe while in our buildings. With the rapid spread and contagiousness of this new variant, we also ask that families do their part to keep kids home if they are not feeling well and regularly test family members, even if asymptomatic.  It is recommended that community members receive regular COVID tests to help stop the spread. Tests are available through COVIDCheck Colorado sites across the city, or you can use at-home tests, which can be ordered for free here. Remember that Colorado offers free Rapid At-Home Testing Kits. We highly recommend ordering some for your family, as we have all seen how fast they have sold out at local stores recently. 

Sign Up for Vaccine & Vaccine Booster Doses

To help protect our community and keep each other healthy, all DPS staff, families and eligible students are encouraged to get your vaccine (available to those ages 5 and older) or booster as soon as possible. 

ECE & 5th Grade Families:
SchoolChoice Applications for 2022-2023 School Year Open Soon!

ECE and 5th grade families, Round One of SchoolChoice for the 2022-2023 school year opens on Friday, January 14 and runs through Tuesday, February 15! As a reminder, SchoolChoice is the Denver Public Schools application program designed to ensure all students have access to quality schools. Families complete a SchoolChoice application to sign up for a space next school year at their preferred school.

Current ECE families should complete a SchoolChoice application for kindergarten next year. Completing an application, even if McKinley is your neighborhood school, is highly recommended to secure your space in our very popular kindergarten classes. It also helps us with general planning and building our classroom rosters.

Current 5th grade families should also plan to complete a SchoolChoice application for sixth grade next year, even if you’re attending your neighborhood middle school. 

To complete an application:

  1. Research schools you’re interested in to find the best fit for your student. 
  2. Create a SchoolChoice account at or make sure you can access your existing account. 
  3. Submit your 2022-23 SchoolChoice application any time between 10:00am on Friday, January 14 and 4:00pm on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

For more information, visit the SchoolChoice website or reach out to our main office at (720) 424-5600!

Resident Principal / Acting Principal Update

At McT, we are dedicated to growing the best educators we can in order to help our school and community thrive. As you know, Mrs. Courtney Waring has been serving as a Principal Resident at McKinley this year. She has done a fantastic job of taking on leadership duties and ensuring that she is meeting the needs of our staff, students, and families. In order to support her leadership journey, she will be embarking on a two-week Acting Principal Experience starting on Monday, January 10 and ending on Friday, January 21. 

During this time period, Ms. Geerdes will be out of the building while Mrs. Waring leads our school. While out of our building, Sonia will embark on a variety of professional development opportunities that will help her grow her practice as a school leader. 

Ms. Geerdes & Mrs. Waring are working hard together to plan for this experience, and Mrs. Waring is ready to lead our community! Sonia will be available in the case of an emergency, and Courtney will have support from various mentors throughout the district as well. If you have any questions, please reach out to either of us at or

Thank you so much for reading this important information. We can’t wait to see you back in the building tomorrow!

All the best,

Sonia Geerdes, Principal

Courtney Waring, Principal Resident