By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver metro area school superintendents and the governor agree it’s time to get kids back in the classroom. Both laid out their plans to make in-person learning possible and more consistent in the new year.

Their ideas include more testing and changes to quarantine requirements that could help with staff shortages.

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“The wide quarantine nets that are cast with just a single positive test make operability nearly impossible,” Brian Ewert, Superintendent of Littleton Public Schools, said.

He is among the coalition of superintendents working to get back to in-person learning and says those staff shortages have been their biggest hurdle to staying in the classroom.

Updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shorten quarantine requirements may be the key to keeping their operations going.

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“Students and staff will have the ability to test out of quarantine on day seven. This strategy will allow students and staff to return to class sooner,” outgoing Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova said.

In order to be successful, more testing will be needed. The governor and his team say they will make testing for those in school communities a priority in their road map back to in-person learning.

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“We are recommending in the report that schools are able to have onsite testing for anybody who is symptomatic,” Gov. Jared Polis said on Tuesday.

For many school districts those efforts are already underway, expanding a partnership with COVID Check Colorado.

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Mike Johnston is the president of Gary Community Investments, the group behind the testing. He says with help from the state health department they have been able to offer free testing to teachers for months, and will now expand that to students as well with quick results.

“It is what the NBA used to run the bubble, and it will allow us to do school-based administration,” he said.

Layered on top of requirements already in place, like mask wearing and contact tracing, the hope is that students and teachers will be able to safely remain in school.

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The coalition of superintendents is also asking teachers be made a priority for vaccination in phase two. It doesn’t offer any additional protection until after the second dose which will be administered the same time the semester is coming to an end.

Karen Morfitt