(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Most Denver area school districts will close buildings for “in-person” education, starting next week on Monday, March 16, in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Jeffco, Aurora, and Cherry Creek public schools will effectively start spring break a week early, from March 16 until March 27, 2020. Denver Public Schools, which has at least two students diagnosed with coronavirus, will be closed March 16 to April 6.
Jeffco Schools will “transition to a Remote Learning Plan”; buildings will close March 16 to the 20th, and administrators will re-evaluate when to re-open after spring break ends on March 27. Jefferson County Schools was the last of the major Denver metro districts to announce a closure at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 12. Earlier that day, Jeffco canceled all sports activities, as have most other school districts.
Transition to remote learning
Technically, the extra weeks of closed school buildings aren’t a complete school closure , as most schools will conduct classes online before and after the posted spring break, which is traditionally the last week of March. Modern students at all grade levels are accustomed to accessing their assignments through Google Classroom, or similar online learning platforms, so it won’t be as much of a transition as one might think. And graduating seniors who are willing and able to access their class content online can still graduate on time.
Contact your own school district for more information.
CPR News has the story.
School closures will be a calamity for many families
For low income families without internet access or smartphones, for “at-risk” students who depend on school as the one predictable and safe place in their chaotic lives, for parents of very young children who have no affordable childcare available, for severely disabled children whose families depend on school services, closing schools will be a disaster.
Families will be scrambling to find childcare and supervision for young children. Teens may be left to fend for themselves, or be drafted to watch their siblings. Kids who rely on the free breakfasts and clinics provided in many school buildings will be left hungry or without medical care. Hourly employees – cafeteria and custodial workers, paraprofessional, substitute teachers like myself, school bus drivers – will be missing almost a month’s pay, with no relief in sight. And of course, the education of thousands of local students will be drastically disrupted.
Children and youth usually don’t get severe coronavirus symptoms, but can still spread the disease
This catastrophic disruption for many Denver area families will probably be worth it; it is intended to save hundreds of lives in the community. For the children themselves, the risk is small- for reasons we don’t yet understand, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) is not generally fatal or severe in symptoms for youth under the age of 20. Although kids get sick, and are contagious, symptoms are usually mild.
China CDC , which dealt with the first outbreak of Covid-19, found that otherwise healthy children generally seemed immune from the worst effects of the virus. But young people have and can and will spread the disease to their families and fellow students.
Closing the schools may keep virus cases near Colorado’s current 130% growth rate, instead of the exponential doubling-every-day curve seen in China, Italy, and other hard-hit countries.
Coronavirus cases in Colorado
Colorado had 49 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of March 12, 5 PM, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Last Monday, there were only nine cases. At this rate, we will have over 200 people diagnosed with coronavirus infections in Colorado by the end of the month. Without closing schools, the virus could infect thousands more. So far, the coronavirus has been fatal for about 3% of those infected: mostly the frail, the elderly, people with respiratory or coronary disease, diabetes, or with compromised immune systems. See CDC for current information.
The number of confirmed cases will certainly increase as testing becomes more available. As of March 12, only 430 people had been tested for Covid-19, according to CDPHE.
Painful as it will be, for me and many others, closing the schools for in-person classes for three weeks may save hundreds of lives. You don’t need an in-person class in a building to do that math.
A bit of extension —
One co-curricular activity I help with is hoping to reschedule their last debate & speech tournament in mid-May, but is (properly) saying events will determine that possibility. The national tournament held by the organization is cancelled — as is every other National forensics tournament for high school and college competitors that I'm aware of.
Nationally, the positive test cases are increasing by about 30% per day. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 are running about 2.5% of positive cases — a rate obviously worse than South Korea's 0.8%, much better than Italy's 6.6%.