DENVER (KRDO) -- Governor Jared Polis announced on Wednesday that a new task force will coordinate the safe return of students to the classroom in January.
The "Back-to-School Working Group" will consist of teachers, school staff, superintendents, health officials and parents. The team will share their perspectives and feedback to state leaders about schools reopening next year.
“Every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and we cannot let our students’ education become a casualty of this pandemic,” Polis said.
The task force is gathering Wednesday for the first time to discuss current protocols and best practices when planning for students returning.
“This challenging time has strained our educators, parents, school staff and students," Polis said. "That’s why I’ve formed this working group to help us successfully reopen our schools for in-person learning during the pandemic— I believe that together, we can build upon and develop innovative strategies that assist us in safely reopening schools for all our students.”
But many schools have been forced to close classrooms as they face dramatic substitute teacher shortages and too many staff in quarantine to keep up in-person learning.
“We need to talk collectively, collaboratively, about how we’re addressing that substitute shortage and how we can overcome staffing shortages when we have to follow quarantine guidances," said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association and member of the task force.
Gov. Polis also hopes $15 million toward school safety improvements statewide will help.
“Outdoor classrooms, HVAC improvements for filtration, plexiglass, all those types of things," Polis said. "We want to continue to do more.”