Polis focuses on schools in Tuesday coronavirus update


DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis held a press conference Tuesday to update Coloradans on the state’s coronavirus response.

Watch the update on the governor’s Facebook page.

Dr. Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education; Rico Munn, superintendent of Aurora Public Schools; and Dr. Chris Rogers, Medical Director of Child & Adolescent Services at the Medical Center of Aurora, joined Polis for the update.

“This pandemic has created unique challenges for hardworking families, teachers, and students so it’s critical that Colorado students are enrolled and receiving the instruction and support they need to continue their education. I encourage everyone including parents, educators, communities, and business leaders to do their part to increase school engagement at all levels because even a few months of lost learning has significant impacts on students,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I applaud the teachers, parents, and loved ones who are going above and beyond in helping kids stay engaged with online and in-person learning and thinking outside the box. My administration is focused on offering as much support as we can to schools across our state to ensure learning continues while prioritizing both the education of students and the health and safety of students, staff, and teachers.”

Schools in Colorado are seeing lower enrollment, and many school districts are working hard to reach students and families. 

Today the state announced revisions to school outbreak guidelines, providing more tools to school districts that adopt best practices for COVID mitigation like seating charts and mask-wearing, to safely quarantine close contacts, instead of automatically quarantining entire cohorts or classrooms of students. This is particularly important for middle and high schools, where it is more difficult to keep students in small cohorts. 

“We cannot let our children’s education become a casualty of this pandemic,” Commissioner of Education, Dr. Katy Anthes. “We need parents to enroll students whether it’s for online or in-person learning and the department will continue to work with districts to support all of our students during this challenging time.”  

The Governor also announced that the state has placed 40 new AmeriCorps members in some of the highest needs schools from the San Luis Valley to the Front Range focused on student outreach and engagement. These AmeriCorps members will help to contact families to help get children enrolled, attending, and engaged in school as soon as possible. 

In addition, Gov. Polis announced the Colorado Department of Local Affairs has provided $2.1 million through the Next Step 2-Generation Homelessness Prevention Program to support education-housing partnerships to help provide stable housing for children and families at-risk of experiencing homelessness. These resources will support Adams 14, Sheridan, Brighton 27J, Jefferson County, and Boulder school districts and their partners by helping to house 225 homeless families.

These steps come in addition to the state’s work to help address broadband access for students and support at-home learning. In partnership with the Attorney General’s Office and Colorado Department of Education, the State announced that T-Mobile would be providing 34,000 hotspots to families and $2 million to address broadband connectivity issues and support remote learning last month. In addition, families can watch “Colorado Classroom,”  high-quality K-3 literacy and STEM content taught by master teachers, every Monday through Friday 8-10 am on Rocky Mountain PBS or at RMPBS.org. The Governor reminded families that they can visit stayathomeco.colorado.gov/education for more resources on how to best navigate learning at home.  

Gov. Polis provided an update on the state’s wildfires and how they are affecting air quality. As of Tuesday morning:

  • Mullen Fire is 77,950 acres and two percent contained 
  • Cameron Peak Fire is now 124,026 acres and 21 percent contained
  • Middle Fork Fire is 7,897 acres and 0 percent contained
  • Williams Fork Fire grew to 12,850 acres and is 14 percent contained
  • Grizzly Creek Fire is unchanged at 32,431 acres and 91 percent contained

As of Sunday, September 27, CDPHE has issued 107 Air Quality Health Advisories for Wildfire Smoke across Colorado. That is the 2nd highest number of advisories since they started being tracked in 2011. 

Gov. Polis reminded Coloradans to visit Census.gov to fill out this quick, easy form to be counted in the 2020 Census before the deadline.  

Governor Polis highlighted LivWell Enlightened Health is a vertically integrated cannabis company headquartered here in Colorado that has stepped up to support their community during this difficult time. Beginning in August, the company provided the opportunity for its customers to round up their purchase totals to the nearest dollar amount with the difference going to the COVID Relief Fund. As of today, LivWell Enlightened Health customers choosing to round up for COVID relief has raised $29,319 representing 68,575 transactions/donations. Visit helpcoloradonow.org for more information on the COVID Relief Fund.

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