By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance on Friday for how schools can safely reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Education leaders say many of the federal recommendations are already in place in Colorado.

(credit CBS)

“It is so important educationally, socially, psychologically for kids to be in school. We have demonstrated that it’s safe with the layered protections that Colorado Schools have successfully implemented. I’m glad to have the CDC verify that information,” said Gov. Jared Polis in his weekly update.

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The CDC is using zones based on COVID-19 transmission levels to determine who should learn in-person. Schools in yellow and blue zones where there is low and moderate transmission can offer full in-person learning.

Schools in orange zones where there is substantial transmission should move to hybrid learning. Red zones require older students to learn remotely and younger students to switch to hybrid learning.

(credit: CBS)

The CDC also highlighted five key strategies for schools to reopen safely:

  1. Universal and Correct Mask Wearing
  2. Social Distancing
  3. Hand Washing
  4. Cleaning
  5. Contact Tracing

Colorado Education Association President Amie Baca-Oehlert says Colorado schools have been focused on these five strategies for months.

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“The challenge I think has been that they haven’t been implemented consistently across the state and that’s not because districts aren’t trying. The real reason is that in order to implement these safety measures, we need resources,” she said.

While some of the recommendations sound simple, Baca-Oehlert said they can be a challenge to follow.

“When you think about the distancing requirement, for example, that’s something that schools have really struggled with. Many of our buildings are not built in a way that you can easily manipulate them to meet those distance requirements,” she said.

With a federal push for safe schools, the hope is that districts in Colorado can get additional help.

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“We have been pushing all year at the state and federal level. This is why we need these dollars,” she explained.

Karen Morfitt