Colorado releases coronavirus reopening guidance for schools that includes plans for in-person learning
The recommendations are the clearest indication yet that learning won’t be fully remote in Colorado come fall as it was in the final months of last school year
Colorado health and education officials on Monday issued guidance to school districts that allows for in-person learning in the fall with restrictions, for older students in particular, aimed at preventing outbreaks of the coronavirus.
“We know that the safe opening of schools is a critically important topic that touches all of our lives, and we all really want to get our students back into schools safely where they are best supported and active learners,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner.
Anthes acknowledged the heightened level of anxiety affecting the lives of teachers, staff members and families and said her department understands how worried educators in particular are about the coronavirus.
“Of course we want to get back to school and do so as safely as possible, and that’s what this guidance helps us do,” Anthes said. “With our partners from local health agencies and districts, it provides a set of standards and best practices to know when and how we can get back to school safely based on the level of virus in each community.”
The state is zeroing in on a localized approach to reopening schools in the fall, with the pandemic impacting communities differently.
“Not all school buildings, schools and communities are the same, so educators need multiple strategies that they can interchange and layer to decrease the risks,” Anthes said.
The guidance released on Monday expands on guidance the state released at the end of May. The Colorado Department of Education, in collaboration with district leaders and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, began developing a “toolkit” for the start of classes in the fall, with guidance focused on health and safety, continuity of learning and conditions for learning.
Under the latest guidance, all students 11 and older will be required to wear masks while those 10 and younger are urged to cover their faces. Districts are encouraged to “cohort” students to prevent mass spread of the disease if there is an outbreak. And schools are being told to ensure that common areas are frequently sanitized and that there is adequate ventilation.
It will be up to individual school districts to decide whether to follow the guidance, but the recommendations are the clearest indication yet that learning won’t be fully remote in Colorado come fall as it was in the final months of last school year.
“I know we’re going to have to be nimble,” Anthes said as she unveiled the guidance in a briefing with reporters.
To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.
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