Polis, who previously served as a member of the Colorado State Board of Education, said his administration is working with school districts on “schedules that have less interactions, that can slow the spread when there’s an inevitable outbreak.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican who has won praise for his coronavirus response, also emphasized the need to facilitate social distancing in schools, while expressing more tempered expectations about school reopenings.
“What I have asked the schools to do is to assume they’re going back, but to come up with all kinds of alternatives,” DeWine said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Assume, if you’re back, for example, how do you achieve some sort of distancing?”
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“But we hope to be open in August, when school starts back up in most places in Ohio, but we don’t know yet, frankly.” DeWine added.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom struck a similar tone in a separate interview on CNN, calling the question of school reopening a “difficult one to answer in absolute terms.”
“I think some schools will not be. Many schools will be,” the Democratic governor said. “There’s nuance. But we are moving forward, in hope and expectation that we can start that school year very strategically and methodically, again, based upon the health as a prime frame of reference in terms of those decisions.”
Governors have struggled over how to see to it that children continue to learn but also remain healthy — and also don’t lead others to become infected.
Colorado’s Polis suggested changes to schools would be likely. He said “maybe 10-20 percent of parents” will want to keep their kids out of school in the fall, until they’re more confident in the safety of returning to in-person learning, which Polis said could have a positive effect on reducing crowding in school buildings.
Pressed by Wallace on whether children will face setbacks in their educational attainment due to this spring’s abrupt transition to remote learning, Polis said: “There’s really no excuses in the business of education.”
“I made that very clear to our superintendents, I hope other governors across the nation are doing that,” he added. “You need that social side, right, and it’s a little bit harder to get that social side in an online setting. But academically, there are no excuses for every kid not to be able to accomplish their grade-level work.”