Polis: ‘Increasingly unlikely’ Colorado schools return to session this year

UPDATE: Later Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close at least until April 17.

Gov. Jared Polis said on Wednesday that it’s “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools that have closed due to coronavirus will reopen this year.

More than 95% of Colorado students are already out of school as districts across the state have closed in an effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Some small rural districts remain open, and the Colorado Education Association, the state teachers union, has called on the governor to order all remaining districts to close.

Polis said at a press conference Wednesday that he continues to monitor the situation and may make additional announcements soon. In recent days, he’s ordered the closure of the state’s ski resorts and required all restaurants and bars to end dine-in service.

At the same time, the state public health and human services departments have asked child care facilities to stay open. Also on Wednesday, he announced the rollout with community partners of an emergency child care system for frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, and staff at long-term care facilities.

Asked about the state’s K-12 schools, Polis said, “it’s increasingly unlikely that schools will return this school year.”

Most Colorado school districts have announced two- to three-week closures, at least some portion of which includes their spring break week, with many acknowledging the closure could extend longer. On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Education announced it would not require districts to conduct state testing this school year and that various school accountability proceedings designed to monitor low-performing schools would also be on hold.

Some school districts have already rolled out online and remote learning plans, while others have deemed the closures an extended spring break. If the closures continue for the rest of the school year, though, most districts will shift to remote learning.

On Tuesday, Kansas became the first state to announce school would not resume this year.