By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– Gov. Jared Polis is forming a school task force with the hope of getting students back into the classroom for in-person learning next semester. The task force meets for the first time on Wednesday and will include the president of the Colorado Education Association.

(credit: CBS)

“We are going to be more hands on and working with teachers and school districts and schools and families to get kids back to in-person learning in January for next semester to have a minimum number of interruptions. We’re establishing a task force that will work closely with teachers and parents and principals and superintendents and elected school boards and health officials to really help move forward with the support that’s needed for school for kids to return to safe in classroom instruction,” said Polis at his news conference on Monday afternoon.

Several large school districts in the Denver metro area, including Denver Public Schools, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Jeffco Public Schools and Douglas County Public Schools, have returned to full remote learning after a surge in coronavirus cases.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

“Bringing that educator expertise and experience to the discussion, so we are happy that this is finally coming to fruition and we will have a seat at the table,” said Colorado Education Association President Amie Baca-Oehlert, the state’s largest union for educators.

Baca-Oehlert expects the task force will meet often to determine a course that’s best suited to return to in-person learning in January 2021. She says her union has called on clear and consistent guidelines since the summer that do not leave parents wondering when their students may be going back to remote learning and require them to check the status of their schools often.

She hopes the task force can agree on the metrics and data to determine in-person learning versus remote learning. She believes the answers to that policy could be found in districts around the U.S. but also around the world.

“Not just what is the responsibility of the school community but what is the responsibility of the broad community,” Baca-Oehlert told CBS4 on a video conference call. “We know that in other countries they’ve done things within the community so that they can prioritize in-person learning for students.”

Shawn Chitnis