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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and education officials unveiled a plan Tuesday that aims to get students back in classrooms during the upcoming winter and spring semester while ensuring public health safety.

Gov. Polis, along with members of a Back-to-School Working Group that the governor established in November, said multi-layered health safety measures are key to getting kids, especially in grades kindergarten through 5th grade, back to in-person learning.

Specific action steps, Polis said, are part of the “Roadmap to In-person Learning” that is being released Tuesday. These steps include prioritizing COVID testing for school staff; expanding contact tracing capacity for schools; continued mask wearing; regular symptom screening; effective cohorting; continued social distancing; effective ventilation such as an open window; and continued hand washing.  

“Learning loss is a real problem that kids are facing. And it’s even more severe for those who are already at risk,” Gov. Polis said during a briefing Tuesday. He added that those at risk include low-income students, people of color, rural Coloradans and those who don’t have reliable access to the internet.

Polis said that over the past several months, it’s become clear that schools are relatively low-risk environments for the transmission spread of COVID-19.

Polis added that although Colorado has now started receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments, the plan for re-opening schools concentrates only on the near-term, and measures will need to be re-evaluated after mass vaccination begins.