Faced with difficult decisions about opening schools, Aurora school board members say they’re struggling with what evidence and whose advice to trust.
Aurora students will start the school year online at least until the beginning of October, but the school board is grappling with who will be in charge of deciding if it’s safe to bring students back to school buildings then and what factors should play a role.
Complicating the decision, Aurora board members said they worry that public health guidance is being influenced by political and economic pressures.
“We’re not feeling confident,” said board member Kevin Cox.
Superintendent Rico Munn had planned to tie the district’s restart plan to public health metrics, an approach other districts have used. High rates of COVID transmission in Adams and Arapahoe counties on a set date would have triggered a remote start. More moderate rates would have opened the door to various levels of in-person learning, with cohorts and grouping to limit interactions.
Munn wanted to wait until early this month to look at those metrics, but board members didn’t want to wait, and weren’t sure if the public health metrics Munn was considering were the right ones to measure if it was safe to open schools. So they took over the decision, ordering that Aurora start the school year remotely, regardless of those measures.
“One of the reasons I stepped back from that was just a growing nagging feeling that decisions were being made that weren’t just about health,” said board member Debbie Gerkin.