Gov. Polis & CDPHE Director Ryan to School Superintendents & Charter School Leaders: State is Ready to Support Schools, Students, Parents & Teachers to Meet Goals of Safety and Uninterrupted In-Person Learning for Students

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

DENVER - Governor Polis and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jill Ryan sent a letter to school superintendents and charter school leaders making clear the state is ready to support our schools, students, parents, and teachers in order to meet the goals of safety and uninterrupted in-person learning for students.  

The Governor and Director Ryan commended the school superintendents, charter school leaders, educators, families, and local public health agencies, students across the state for their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that students were able to receive in-person education last year as a result of their efforts. 

“Throughout the spring, our office and state agencies received letters and phone calls from education leaders, the State Board of Education, superintendents, and parents asking that health protocols be decided at a local level. So when the disaster emergency ended, we honored those requests and allowed the provisions of the public health order to expire on July 3rd, reverting those decisions to local officials. Local leaders have always had the power to respond to the individual needs in their communities, and enact more stringent restrictions,” Governor Polis and Director Ryan write. 

“This week, many Colorado students go back into the classroom, and some already have. I commend the work of our school districts and education leaders in preparing for a new academic year that will undoubtedly be difficult as we continue to navigate the pandemic. We are watching southern states and even some of our neighbors who returned to in-person learning this August, many of whose local and state governments have actively decided against instituting the health mitigation protocols that are proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19 -- having to return to remote learning as far too many children are being infected with this disease, some with severe cases. As state leaders and as parents of school-aged children, these trends are troubling to us; it's worrisome that some of Colorado’s school districts and schools might suffer the same outcome if they do not take recommended actions to protect their students and staff, and preserve in-person learning. While the state of Colorado has been responsive to local leaders’ requests to revert decision-making back to them, our administration has provided guidance and support for local school districts to ensure the safety of all our children,” the letter continues.  

Last week, Governor Polis announced additional steps the state is taking to ensure students, faculty, and staff can safely return to school.

“Our administration has provided school districts and school leaders with science-based guidance to return to safe in-person learning, free medical-grade masks, free testing, and we stand ready to support you in your work. The state of Colorado is ready to change course if our students' safety is threatened or compromised and in-person learning is put in jeopardy. So we are writing to you today to express my gratitude to those who have implemented science-based mitigation strategies, and to implore everyone to institute the strategies laid out in our guidance, including mask-wearing, especially for the unvaccinated; serial testing, especially for students engaged in higher-risk activities; and policies that all students and personnel stay home when sick.  We continue to be ready to support and partner with you to meet our shared goals of safety and uninterrupted in-person learning for any student and family in Colorado,” the letter concludes.