CEA Media Release: Colorado’s education unions introduce recommended COVID-19 thresholds & metrics for schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2020

Colorado’s education unions introduce recommended COVID-19 thresholds & metrics for schools

Update to Colorado’s COVID-19 dial aims to help guide school district decision-making

DENVER – Colorado educators from across the state released their own version of the Colorado state COVID-19 dial today, adding metrics and thresholds to help guide school district decision-making about when student learning should occur in person, remote or in a hybrid learning environment. With positive COVID-19 cases on the rise in Colorado, school districts, educators, students and parents are struggling with how to keep students and educators safe while providing the best learning experience for students. School district leaders are not able to provide the clear, easy-to-navigate criteria that is required in order to keep everyone safe.

“When I asked my district leadership what the threshold is for going remote in Poudre schools, my superintendent told me, ‘it’s complicated’,” said John Robinson, high school civics teacher and president of Poudre Education Association. “When student and educator lives are on the line, we need a simple answer with clear direction to keep everyone safe.”

Educators from Academy Education Association, Aurora Education Association, Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Falcon Teachers Education Association, Jefferson County Education Association, Jefferson County Education Support Professionals Association, Poudre Education Association, Pueblo Education Association, Roaring Fork Education Community Association and Widefield Education Association have signed on to this initiative to present a clear path forward for school districts.

“We are calling for clear thresholds now, so that we can get back to in-person learning as quickly as possible,” said Brooke Williams, secondary visual arts teacher and president of the Jefferson County Education Association.

“We negotiated a memorandum of agreement about thresholds, but they were never developed or followed, so now we are coming together with other unions to call on and hold our districts accountable to implement clear, safe metrics,” said Tiffany Choi, high school French teacher and president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. “The reality is that because of community spread, we’ve been forced to go remote. So what these thresholds mean to us is that we want to know when we can go back to in-person learning. Clear thresholds will do that.”

The CEA represents over 39,000 educators across Colorado and the local affiliates present at the press conference today represent more than half the educators in Colorado. Internal polling conducted said that while members want to be in person with their students, they demand safety.

  • 90% of educators agree that student and educator safety is their number one priority.
  • 73% of educators do not trust their school district to accurately report COVID-19 case information.
  • Only 23% of educators feel safe at school.
  • 70% of educators say that as things currently stand, their district should move to 100% remote learning until they can follow clear and safe metrics to allow for in-person learning to resume.

“The state has put superintendents in the extremely difficult position of having to make almost arbitrary decisions on when to shift learning environments and this has placed great strain on educators,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association.

“Students and parents are also significantly impacted by the lack of clarity. Students are experiencing significant disruption to their education and parents are faced with the challenges of balancing work and supporting their students at home with no predictability for when they might return to in person learning and vice versa. As a parent of three school-aged children, I can relate.

“School districts need clear metrics and thresholds to drive their decision-making. Parents, students and educators need to be able to quickly and easily navigate the dial to be able to prepare for and understand when our schools will be fully or partially re-opened and when they’ll be closed and why.”

About the Colorado Education Association
The Colorado Education Association is a membership-based organization that represents 39,000 Colorado educators. The CEA promise to our students and communities is that the members of the Association will lead the way in guaranteeing every student access to the best public education. By working collectively with all education stakeholders, we will provide the best public education for every student and assure Colorado’s standing as an excellent state in which to learn, live, work, and raise a family.

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Proposed Colorado COVID-19 dial for public schools

  • Level Green – Protect Our Neighbors – A vaccine is widely available and there have been no new cases of COVID-19 within 14 days in the county(ies) in which the school district is located. All schools open and all students attend in-person learning.
  • Level Blue – Safer at Home Cautious – 1% percent positivity in the county(ies) in which the school district is located. All schools can open and remote learning available for students who opt in.
  • Level Yellow – Safer at Concern – 3% percent positivity in the county(ies) in which the school district is located. All schools can open and remote learning available for students who opt in.
  • Level Orange – Safer at Home – High Risk – 5% percent positivity in the county(ies) in which the school district is located. All schools closed and all students learn remotely.
  • Level Red – Stay at Home – 6+% percent positivity in the county(ies) in which the school district is located. All schools closed and all students learn remotely.

Link to CO COVID-19 Dial for Public Schools Infographics for districts and community:
https://www.coloradoea.org/wp-content/uploads/COVID-19-Dial-for-Schools.pdf

Letter sent to local school districts:
We, the presidents of Academy Education Association (AEA), Aurora Education Association (AEA), Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), Jefferson County Education Support Professionals Association (JESPA), Poudre Education Association (PEA), Pueblo Education Association (PEA), and Roaring Fork Education Community Association (RFCEA), are coming to together to present a clear path forward and call on our local school boards to take bold action to keep our communities safe.

Local school boards need to adopt a new COVID dial with clear percent positivity metrics to be used as thresholds to move between levels, with details about when and how our schools will be open. We also call on our local school boards and superintendents to implement the new COVID dial for public schools in all future email communications to parents and staff as well as the district’s social media outlets. Our districts must update our local COVID dial for public schools daily and present them clearly on district websites so that all parents, staff, and even students can quickly and easily navigate the dial to be able to prepare and understand when our schools will be fully or partially opened and when they’ll be closed and why. These updates must be implemented by January 4, 2021.

Signed,

Cari Fox
Sociology Teacher
Academy EA President

Bruce Wilcox
Kindergarten Teacher
Aurora EA President

Tiffany Choi
French Teacher
Denver Classroom Teachers Association President

Brooke Williams
Visual Art Teacher
Jefferson County Education Association President

Lara Center
Paraprofessional
Jefferson County Education Support Professional Association President

John Robinson
Civics Teacher
Poudre EA Teacher

Mike Maes
Media Teacher
Pueblo EA President

Rhonda Tatham
SPED Teacher
Roaring Forke Community EA President

Angela Bird
French and Science Teacher
Widefield EA

Matt Blomquist
English Teacher
Sheridan EA President

Angie Reid and Lisa Cross
Art Teachers
Falcon TEA Co-Presidents