Outside a suburban Denver elementary school, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis bent his head for a temperature check before getting the all-clear to head inside and meet a small group of masked second-graders who were back in school for the first time since March.
He was at Village East Community Elementary School, part of the Cherry Creek School District, on Thursday to underscore a message he’s been pushing for months: Children need to be in school, and it’s safe for them to be there, at least as safe as anything is during a pandemic.
“There’s people that work in grocery stores every day, there’re still cops out in the street, as governor I still have to do public events, but we’re doing it in a different way,” he said.
“And this is what we’re learning to do in our schools.”
Despite Polis’s encouragement, school districts that serve almost half of Colorado’s 913,000 K-12 students have chosen to keep students home, some for a few weeks, others for the entire first quarter. Even in school districts holding classes, tens of thousands of families have opted for remote learning as the coronavirus threat persists.
Colorado’s experience of school reopening has been a microcosm of the nation’s, marked by uncertainty and disparities. Students are facing wildly different educational experiences based on where they live. It’s not clear when students learning at home might get back in the classroom or whether students now in the classroom will stay there.