Colorado kids are saying goodbye to their sun-filled days of summer and head back to school. But what does school even look like this fall? Better yet, what does it look like for parents trying to get their work done?
“We know that the safe opening of schools is a critically important topic that touches all of our lives, and we all really want to get our students back into schools safely where they are best supported and active learners,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner.
While it is easier to navigate state-wide decisions, a localized approach allows counties with less COVID-19 cases to operate with fewer restrictions. The state has provided guidance for all school districts, but they have left it up to each district to monitor what to implement. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has also shared resources to help parents know when to keep kids home, when to share illness details with other families, and how long to stay home when sick. This year, parents have more to track than just buying the correct back to school supplies.
The Lowdown on Colorado School Plans and State Response
|School Plans||Students 11 and older are required to wear masks. Children 10 and younger are encouraged to wear a mask. All schools are urged to sanitize more frequently and provide more ventilation where possible. While class sizes are not limited for kindergarten through eighth grade, officials recommend limiting high school class sizes in order to ensure six feet of separation between students. The state is also encouraging schools to limit adults entering the classrooms to no more than four times a day.
While Colorado students typically start school towards the beginning of August, most districts have pushed the start date back to mid to late August. Many districts have decided to begin the year with a remote option that ends in early September or October. Other districts provide hybrid options, with increased schedule rotations for older students. Even though some schools are offering in-person classes, many are opting to resume in an incremental approach. From virtual days to start dates to scheduled class days to mask rules, parents have a lot on their plate to consider.
|State Responses||Governor Jared Polis instituted a three level approach for the state. Colorado is currently in Level 2: Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors. Under Level 2, the state expects its residents to wear masks when they leave the house and to stay home as much as possible. Offices are open for business, but only at 50% capacity. Telecommuting is strongly encouraged. While residents are not mandated to stay at home, it’s clear that virtual connections are the preferred method in order to reduce exposure. If there’s ever a place for being encouraged to stay home and spend time outside, it’s in Colorado.|
Colorado’S DEFENSE INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS
Colorado has supported the defense industry for over 75 years. The state supports the military with five major installations and five strategic military commands. Colorado plays a key role in defense and intelligence mission support. At the same time, the state is also a cybersecurity hub. So, despite a pandemic, the defense industry is still set to thrive.
“FTI was very fortunate to be in a position to transition all of our employees to a remote teleworking environment in early March with great success and have been virtual ever since,” said Delta Stein from Frontier Technology Inc. “We do anticipate the virtual working environment will continue through the fall and very likely into the new year.”
Stein explained that business is growing despite the national setback with COVID-19, so it “has required us to maintain a strong pipeline of applicant activity with an emphasis on software developers, aerospace engineers, and cyber analysts.” With virtual working requirements in play in Colorado, FTI has “been very transparent with our employees and future employees regarding our flexible work environment as we want to ensure their work life issues are balanced and can be managed appropriately.”
Stein encourages defense employers to “be flexible and keep deeply connected with each of your employees.”
Living Your Best Virtual Life
The hardest thing about the virtual life is seeing the same four walls all the time. Don’t forget to switch up your location whenever possible. While consistency is helpful, a change of scenery can do wonders for the brain. If you live close to your coworkers, it might be helpful to meet at an outdoor location to discuss project updates instead of the usual video conference check-ins. The key is to switch things up before you get sick of the current status quo.
You also might need to consider a centralized household schedule in order to keep it all straight. With adjusted school dates, rotating class days, and reduced in-office days, the reality is that everyone might be on different schedules five days a week. So that you don’t miss anything, either a central command station or a spreadsheet might help you track who is on first, second, or third, and who is at home.