This week, Gov. Polis took the unprecedented step of suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17 as part of the statewide effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. His executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to make every effort to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time while taking into account the needs of local communities. The order also directs the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to issue guidance to support P-12 school systems in developing and implementing plans to assist families and students in accessing alternative learning, providing free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time as appropriate.
Before the announcement about statewide school closure, CDE announced a pause on 2019-20 statewide assessments (the Colorado Measures of Academic Success) and accountability. “With the extraordinary actions we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s clear that we need to press pause on our CMAS tests this year,” Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a press release. “Students and educators need to feel a sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results. This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year.”
CDE is working with the College Board on possible solutions for the administration of the PSAT and SAT tests in high school. The Department will continue working with schools and districts that are already identified for improvement to help support instruction.
The Children’s Campaign is committed to working with CDE, other advocacy organizations, and our community-facing and youth-serving partners to ensure that students have equitable access to remote learning opportunities, nutritious meals, and other services to support their health and wellbeing while out of school.
In the meantime, we hope the resources below may be a helpful starting point for students and families that are navigating uncharted learning-from-home waters.
Curated learning resources to support students out of school:
- Online learning in the wake of COVID-19 – a comprehensive article from the New America Foundation with tips and resources for PreK-12 with equity in mind
- Distance learning and remote working resources – Colorado Succeeds
- Distance learning resource center – Education Reimagined
- Audible stories – free audiobook streaming for kids with titles across six languages
- Additional resources that can be access by parents and students at home can be found through Khan Academy, Illustrative Mathematics, CommonLit, and Zearn
- Several efforts have been made to expand broadband, wi-fi, and telephone services for the next 60 days. Comcast and CenturyLink are just two of the companies working to get/keep students and families connected to the internet.
COVID-19 resources for parents, families, and those working closely with children:
- COVID-19 resources for schools and parents – the Colorado Department of Education has created a page devoted to parent guidance for school closures, information about the pause on statewide assessments and accountability, and school meal guidance.
- Where children and families can access free meals while students are out of school (map) – Chalkbeat Colorado
- Resources for talking with kids about the virus from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Association of School Psychologists and National Association of School Nurses and a comic exploring Coronavirus from NPR
- Healthy Schools Hub – Colorado Education Initiative
- Switchboard Resources: Coronavirus information in multiple languages\
Leslie Colwell, Colorado Children’s Campaign