As more school districts revert to remote learning amid rising COVID-19 cases, some parents are calling for the state to do more to ensure schools can stay open.
Advocates from five metro area districts have combined their efforts to push for in-person learning. They represent Denver Public Schools, JeffCo Public Schools, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Boulder Valley School District and St. Vrain Valley School District.
"We all realized we have the same issues, it can’t just be resolved at the district level, and that’s why we’ve all come together to advocate for some sort of firm state level guidelines," said Dan Maloit, a father and founder of the Facebook group St. Vrain Educational Advocates.
Maloit and other parents said they feel certain schools and districts have identified virus mitigation strategies that work, and districts can learn from one another.
"We’re seeing a lot of inequitable options from district to district especially in the Denver metro area," said Molly Kehmeier, a parent and advocate with Adams 12. "I think that’s where the state comes in — they could pull those things together to provide some guidance and expectations across the board."
The parent groups have requested a formal meeting with Gov. Jared Polis, and sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Education. In the letter, they say remote learning is leading to mental health problems, social isolation and academic decline.
The letter reads in part: "Considering the extreme negative effects on children that are denied 100% in-person learning both to their education and mental health, we believe the CSDE is obligated to stand in support of 100% in-person learning for the children of Colorado. We also believe the CSDE should use every power and influence at its disposal to address these issues directly with Governor Polis."
Denver parent Nisha Ashley said she worries most about families with the fewest resources to help their children.
"We all want our kids in school because that’s the best place for them, but there are kids who need to be in school because their lives depend on it," Ashley said.