By Alan Gionet

(CBS4) – Parents and school districts are looking at the possibility of regular rapid testing for COVID-19 as schools head back. The announcement from Gov. Jared Polis Thursday was that with the agreement of the federal government, the testing programs could begin in early September. The federal government would need to sign off on it because it would be funded with federal dollars budgeted to Colorado.

Students head to class at West Ridge Elementary, in the 27J School District, on Aug.12, 2021 in Thornton.

Students head to class at West Ridge Elementary School, in the 27J School District, on Aug.12, 2021 in Thornton. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“Every school child in Colorado can have the same level of protection as a Denver Bronco,” said Polis, citing similar methods used by the Broncos during their practice time in a bubble-like environment.

In Douglas County, mom Gretchen Brahm is thinking about her own two elementary aged children but other kids as well.

“Obviously my kids, but I am concerned about their peers. I don’t want anybody getting sick. One child having to go to the hospital for this is one child too many.”

On the topic of rapid testing of her children, she’d do it without the compensation.

“I think that’s certainly one way to do it I think that’s a very valuable tool.”

Polis introduced the idea, saying it’s one piece along with other efforts like cohort grouping, masking, distancing and ventilation. But he stopped short of calling for statewide masking in schools as Gretchen hoped for after recommendations from the Academy of Pediatrics, saying as long as hospitalizations among children do not reach critical levels, he would not push the idea. “We’re honoring the tradition of local control on these decisions. When we reached 70 percent of adults vaccinated in the state, we ended the health disaster emergency that had been in place for a year,” said Polis.

Student work during advisory period at Riverdale Ridge High School on Aug. 12, 2021 in Thornton.

Student work during advisory period at Riverdale Ridge High School on Aug. 12, 2021 in Thornton. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

If the federal government signs off, the rapid testing could include compensation to families of five to 25 dollars per week. Polis again used the Broncos imagery.

“That’s the way the Broncos organization in their bubble were able to operate in the football season is doing testing of everyone who went in.”

School districts he said, would also be compensated. Some of the testing might be done when students arrive and they might have to arrive early. Other testing could be set up to be sent to homes. Douglas County has not signed on yet. Jefferson County told us Thursday evening that it would likely be discussed Monday as district leaders got together.

The program would likely start in early September — if districts decide to participate.

If parents and students are interested, here’s the state’s website: covid19.colorado.gov/free-testing-schools

Alan Gionet