During Tuesday's update on COVID-19 in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis was joined by two education officials and a child psychiatrist.
Dr. Katy Anthes, Commissioner of Education, Rico Munn, superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, and Dr. Chris Rogers, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, who works at the Medical Center of Aurora, talked about the importance of enrolling all school-age children as students this fall.
"There is a real benefit for kids to have a structured routine. They do best when they know what to expect each day and the school has those benefits, said Dr. Rogers. "While there continues to be a steep learning curve for many to adapt to online learning, an even bigger obstacle is the stress and trauma of dealing with all the losses presented by this pandemic."
Gov. Polis continues to stress the importance of enrolling students in online programs. He said that upper grades are seeing low attendance and engagement. "We need to make sure every school district has the tools they need," he said.
"Across the country and state, we've seen a sharp decline of enrollment, particularly of our youngest students (preschoolers, kindergartners)," said Munn. "We need to change that. We need to connect with families. We're here to support."
"Our teachers are true heroes during this crisis, but they can’t do it alone," said Dr. Anthes. "If you're a community organization, ask the kids you see if they're enrolled in school and if not, help connect them to their local district.
The Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Department of Human Services has released a resource guide for parents and caregivers regarding joining a learning pod this school year.
Learning pods are being formed in homes where parents or other adults can supervise children who are learning remotely during the school day.
The guidance, called the Resource Guide for Individuals Hosting and Families Participating in Instructional Learning Pods, includes information about Gov. Jared Polis' executive order that provides temporary flexibility to care for school-age children using learning pods.
It also has recommendations to keep individuals safe, including developing a screen procedure to check for COVID-19 symptoms and encouraging physical distancing by marking off designated learning areas.
This press conference follows the governor's announcement last week that the state is seeing significant outbreaks among 18 to 25-year-olds, especially among college students and those attending CU Boulder. He also said there's been an increase in COVID-19 cases to those older than 25.
"This is a warning sign for us just as we had a warning sign in July," he said. "...We need to be a little better."
He encouraged mask-wearing, social distancing, and spending time outdoors in small groups versus large groups.
State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said there has been a "substantial increase" of COVID-19 transmissions in the last week. The rapid increase is being seen among the young adult populations, but even among other age groups there is "rapid acceleration."