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3 years later: Colorado Springs businesses, school districts still impacted by COVID pandemic

Posted at 7:37 PM, Mar 15, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — This week marks three years since Colorado began shutting down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many changes have been made since then, both at local businesses and inside local classrooms.

While we have come a long way since 2020, many still say there is a long ways to go and the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt.

Tyler Sherman owns Odyssey Gastropub in downtown Colorado Springs. He remembers when his business closed its doors not once, but twice.

“And that was another kind of panic moment. Like, when is this going to be over?” Said Sherman.

Businesses like his were pivoting to stay afloat. Many began offering takeout meals and to-go orders only, or offering outdoor dining seating, and limiting the number of people indoors. Three years later, the pandemic is still impacting the industry as a whole.

“I still feel like we're in the middle of it, and a lot of that has to do with a difference in business today versus the business in 2019,” said Sherman. “It's been a challenge and it continues to be a challenge every day.”

Sherman said the labor market and consumer spending habits are a lot different. Plus his business is seeing only 60% of customers they used to see in 2019. He also said people are paying for their meals differently. Before the pandemic, 65% of people used a credit card to pay for their meals, whereas now, it's about 99% of people.

Educators and students were also greatly impacted. Schools pivoted too with remote learning, or block scheduling, where some students learned from home and others learned at school. Mask mandates were also put in place.

“We quickly pivoted, and we started having teachers teach from their living rooms or bedrooms or basements,” said Kellie Moore, a principal at Carmel Community School

“Never experiencing a pandemic, you just don't even think about how something of that magnitude would affect your career,” said Sandra Graham, a teacher at Panorama Middle School.

Schools have since returned to in-person learning, and lifted their mask mandates inside the classrooms. But Graham and Moore both say Harrison School District 2 and its students are also still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic three years later.

“We talk more about the mental health of young people, especially sixth through eighth grade, which is the group of students I get to work with every day,” said Graham.

“Our parents and our families are still facing some of those residual effects, whether it is job loss, housing loss, the underemployment or unemployment now,” said Moore. “So we're pivoting to really support the social and emotional needs not only of the child, but of the families as well.”

Through it all, the pandemic has also showed the resiliency among teachers and educators.

“I think the world got an opportunity to see that teachers are amazing people, and educators are amazing,” said Graham.
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