New state and federal guidance available for re-opening schools safely in the fall

Written by: Leslie Colwell
Date Posted: May 29, 2020

This week the Colorado Department of Education released draft guidance for reopening schools as school and district leaders consider new policies and protocols necessary to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep students and educators healthy when they return to schools in the fall.

Planning the 2020-21 School Year: Framework and Toolkit for School and District Leaders covers health screenings, passing periods, cafeteria operations, and student transportation. It also suggests both in-person and remote instruction and staggering student schedules, if necessary.

The working document will be updated to reflect any new public health orders, the changing status of Colorado’s COVID-19 cases and progress made on treatment over the summer. Additionally, CDE plans to incorporate feedback from a multitude of education stakeholders, as well as the recommendations of an advisory committee that has been formed on planning for the next school year. CDE requests public feedback on the toolkit through this feedback form.

Public and private schools will be required to follow health and safety precautions in Gov. Polis’s executive orders, such as requiring educators to wear face masks and screening body temperatures of students and staff members.

At the federal level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also released an extensive set of safety precautions for schools, many of which mirror CDE’s guidance. Key to the safety precautions is social distancing across all K-12 activities, recommending, for example, that school leaders:

  • Place seats/desks at least six feet apart and turn them to face the same direction.
  • Ensure students avoid sharing electronic devices, toys, books and other learning aids.
  • Close or stagger use of communal use spaces, and disinfect in between use.
  • Cancel all field trips, inter-group events and extracurricular activities and restrict nonessential visitors to school buildings.
Leslie Colwell

About Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell serves as the Vice President of K-12 Education Initiatives, leading the Campaign’s work to improve education in the state of Colorado. Before joining the Children’s Campaign in August of 2014, Leslie worked to facilitate partnerships and produce policy agreements, especially in the area of education as an Associate at the Keystone Center. Her professional experience includes working as Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Johnston, managing his education policy portfolio (including his office’s work on HB12-1238, Colorado’s READ Act, and SB13-033, ASSET), and directing a policy fellowship for educators for three summers. Leslie has also worked on Teach For America’s alumni team, and before that taught 6th grade Math and Earth Science as a TFA corps member at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and on the steering committee of the Colorado Afterschool Partnership.