Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday formally convened a task force of educators, parents and public health experts to advise the state and local school districts on how to achieve a return to in-person learning by January 2021.
“Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and we cannot let our students’ education become a casualty of this pandemic,” Polis said in a statement. “That’s why I’ve formed this working group to help us successfully reopen our schools for in-person learning during the pandemic — I believe that together, we can build upon and develop innovative strategies that assist us in safely reopening schools for all our students.”
Polis announced the “back-to-school working group” in a Tuesday press conference on the state’s coronavirus response, pledging that state officials would be “more hands-on” in encouraging districts to return to in-person learning.
Many school districts, especially in and around the Denver metro area, have switched to remote learning as the spread of COVID-19 took another turn for the worse in recent weeks. Polis, who has reluctantly imposed additional public health restrictions on restaurant dining and other businesses, has vocally opposed those decisions.
“I strongly believe, based on what I’ve seen, that the safest place for students, the safest place for teachers, is school — largely regardless of the level of outbreak in the community,” Polis said Tuesday. “Because it is a safe environment, a regulated environment. People wear masks.”
Members of the task force convened by Polis on Wednesday include State Board of Education member Rebecca McClellan and Colorado Education Association President Amie Baca-Oehlert, along with nearly a dozen other teachers, district superintendents and local public health officials.