Press Release: Closing All Schools Necessary to Keep Students Safe, Prevent Further Virus Spread

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2020

DENVER – Despite new federal guidance released today to limit public gatherings to 10 people, more than half of Colorado school districts have yet to announce plans to close. Having any schools open while the COVID-19 virus continues to spread unnecessarily puts the health of students, educators and the public at risk, according to the Colorado Education Association.

“Governor Polis has taken decisive steps to ensure the safety and health of Coloradans by making tough decisions to temporarily close down restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, breweries and coffeehouses. Yet there has been no order or recommendation to Superintendents to close down Colorado’s public schools for public health and safety as we have seen happen in other states,” said CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert, a high school counselor. “Today we call on the Governor and the Superintendents of schools that have yet to close to put the health and safety of students and educators first in order to help stave off this massive public health crisis.”

Only about 85 of Colorado’s 178 school districts have closed. The majority of large districts have closed but there are still a significant number that have not closed. Some districts on spring break this week have yet to communicate a closure beyond their spring break period.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is clearly not slowing down in our state. Every parent, student and educator has good reason to worry that school could be a place where this disease can be contracted despite our best efforts. As long as this unprecedented threat looms over us, teaching and learning should not occur inside our school buildings. We call on Governor Polis to act decisively and encourage all Superintendents to close our public schools,” added Baca-Oehlert.

Baca-Oehlert reiterated CEA’s earlier calls for school districts to establish food service programs for all students in need, to compensate all dedicated school staff with the full pay and benefits they would normally receive during the school year, and for the Colorado Department of Education to reassess and waive standardized testing requirements for students.

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