9/29/20

Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19 and how the pandemic is affecting Colorado students. He was joined by Commissioner of Education, Dr. Katy Anthes, Superintendent of Aurora Public Schools Rico Munn, and Dr. Chris Rogers, Director of Child and Adolescent Services at the Medical Center of Aurora and President of the Colorado Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Society. 


 

“This pandemic has created unique challenges for hardworking families, teachers, and students so it’s critical that Colorado students are enrolled and receiving the instruction and support they need to continue their education. I encourage everyone including parents, educators, communities, and business leaders to do their part to increase school engagement at all levels because even a few months of lost learning has significant impacts on students,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I applaud the teachers, parents, and loved ones who are going above and beyond in helping kids stay engaged with online and in-person learning and thinking outside the box. My administration is focused on offering as much support as we can to schools across our state to ensure learning continues, while prioritizing both the education of students and the health and safety of students, staff, and teachers.”


 

“We cannot let our children’s education become a casualty of this pandemic,” Commissioner of Education, Dr. Katy Anthes. “We need parents to enroll students whether it’s for online or in-person learning and the department will continue to work with districts to support all of our students during this challenging time.”  


 

Schools in Colorado are seeing lower enrollment, and many school districts are working hard to reach students and families. 


 

Today the state announced revisions to school outbreak guidelines, providing more tools to school districts that adopt best practices for COVID mitigation like seating charts and mask wearing, to safely quarantine close contacts, instead of automatically quarantining entire cohorts or classrooms of students. This is particularly important for middle and high schools, where it is more difficult to keep students in small cohorts. 


 

The Governor also announced that the state has placed 40 new AmeriCorps members in some of the highest needs schools from the San Luis Valley to the Front Range focused on student outreach and engagement. These AmeriCorps members will help to contact families to help get children enrolled, attending, and engaged in school as soon as possible. 


 

In addition, Gov. Polis announced the Colorado Department of Local Affairs has provided $2.1 million through the Next Step 2-Generation Homelessness Prevention Program to support education-housing partnerships to help provide stable housing for children and families at-risk of experiencing homelessness. These resources will support Adams 14, Sheridan, Brighton 27J, Jefferson County, and Boulder school districts and their partners by helping to house 225 homeless families.


 

These steps come in addition to the state’s work to help address broadband access for students and support at-home learning. In partnership with the Attorney General’s Office and Colorado Department of Education, the State announced that T-Mobile would be providing 34,000 hotspots to families and $2 million to address broadband connectivity issues and support remote learning last month. In addition, families can watch “Colorado Classroom,”  high-quality K-3 literacy and STEM content taught by master teachers, every Monday through Friday 8-10 am on Rocky Mountain PBS or at RMPBS.org. The Governor reminded families that they can visit stayathomeco.colorado.gov/education for more resources on how to best navigate learning at home.  


 

Gov. Polis provided an update on the state’s wildfires and how they are affecting air quality. As of Tuesday morning:

  • Mullen Fire is 77,950 acres and two percent contained 

  • Cameron Peak Fire is now 124,026 acres and 21 percent contained

  • Middle Fork Fire is 7,897 acres and 0 percent contained

  • Williams Fork Fire grew to 12,850 acres and is 14 percent contained

  • Grizzly Creek Fire is unchanged at 32,431 acres and 91 percent contained


 

As of Sunday, September 27, CDPHE has issued 107 Air Quality Health Advisories for Wildfire Smoke across Colorado. That is the 2nd highest number of advisories since they started being tracked in 2011. 


 

Gov. Polis reminded Coloradans to visit Census.gov to fill out this quick, easy form to be counted in the 2020 Census before the deadline.  


 

Governor Polis highlighted LivWell Enlightened Health is a vertically integrated cannabis company headquartered here in Colorado that has stepped up to support their community during this difficult time. Beginning in August, the company provided the opportunity for its customers to round up their purchase totals to the nearest dollar amount with the difference going to the COVID Relief Fund. As of today, LivWell Enlightened Health customers choosing to round up for COVID relief has raised $29,319 representing 68,575 transactions/donations. Visit helpcoloradonow.org for more information on the COVID Relief Fund.


 

View the news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page.

 

9/24/20

The Office of Governor Polis released the following statement on Boulder Public Health’s order for 18-22 year-olds:

 

“Governor Polis knows that the better students do avoiding gatherings, the sooner they can get back to in person learning and the sooner they can resume their regular activities. We know this isn’t the school year that any of us imagined, but urgent action is needed to prevent further spread in the community.”

 

 

9/23/20

Today Governor Polis, Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera and the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force (BHTF) released Behavioral Health in Colorado: Putting People First, a blueprint to reform the state’s behavioral health system. The BHTF, initiated by the Governor and led by the Colorado Department of Human Services, met for more than a year, engaging with communities across the state, to create a blueprint to make substance use and mental health services more accessible and affordable across the state. 


 

“We want Colorado’s system to be the model for other states considering how to improve mental health care,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I know this has been countless hours of work on behalf of Coloradans and want to acknowledge all that has been accomplished. I look forward to helping streamline services, reduce duplication, and put customers first so that every Coloradan experiencing behavioral health issues can access timely, high-quality services in their communities in a cost-efficient manner.”


 

Among many bold reforms, the BHTF recommended establishing a statewide behavioral health administration, a new state agency or entity within an agency that will consolidate all non insurance based behavioral health funding and oversee behavioral health services to ensure that services respond to and meet Coloradans’ needs. The BHTF also recommended increasing tele-behavioral health services and implementing regional care coordination to assist consumers with navigating behavioral health services.


 

“Behavioral health is just as critical as our physical health and we must create a system that better serves all Coloradans, but especially those suffering with mental health or substance use issues,” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, member of the Behavioral Health Task Force. “I’m proud of the hard work this task force has done to create a plan that will outline ways to better serve those who have historically faced barriers to care. Too many Coloradans have lost a loved one to suicide or substance use, so while I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, I know this is just the beginning.”


 

Governor Polis established the task force in April 2019 in response to an increasing need for behavioral health services. An estimated one million Coloradans have a behavioral health condition, yet Colorado ranks in the bottom half of states in access to care, according to a 2020 analysis by Mental Health America. Colorado also has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, while deaths from overdose reached an all time high in 2019, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment


 

To inform the plan, hundreds of Coloradans shared their experiences with the current system and dozens of providers, advocates, community leaders and consumers served on three subcommittees and a COVID-19 special assignment committee to offer recommendations.

 

“Today is about you, Colorado,” said CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes, chair of the BHTF executive committee. “I am thrilled to bring forward a bold blueprint that is people-centered and full of ideas and innovation from a variety of stakeholders from across the state. This is true system reform, and I am incredibly proud of this work and everyone who participated.”


 

In phase one of the blueprint, the State intends to create the behavioral health administration, expand tele-behavioral health services, and identify legislative opportunities and new funding sources.


 

About the Colorado Behavioral Health Task Force

On April 8, 2019, Gov. Jared Polis directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to spearhead Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force. The mission of the task force was to evaluate and set the roadmap to improve the current behavioral health system in the state.


 

Watch the press conference on the Governor’s Facebook page.

 

9/22/20

Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s COVID-19 response and was joined by Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, lead epidemiologist at CDPHE, and Adrianne Maddux, Executive Director of Denver Indian Health and Family Services. The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Maddux addressed how the pandemic is affecting Colorado’s American Indian/Alaska Native communities. 


 

“Our health officials are concerned about the recent increase in virus transmission across our state. The increase is most pronounced in 18-25 year olds, who have a much lower hospitalization rate, but sadly the rate is also increasing in Coloradans of all ages and we need to turn that around,” said Governor Jared Polis. “As a state, our success is measured by our collective efforts to support and protect each other. We all must do a better job of wearing face masks, avoiding large crowds, and physically distancing ourselves.”


 

American Indian and Alaska Native populations have been overrepresented in hospitalizations and deaths. 


 

“Our partnership with the American Indian Tribes and communities that call Colorado home strengthens the fabric of our state” said Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. “I’m proud to work directly with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe through the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, as well as the numerous organizations who are working to support American Indians/Alaska Natives living off of tribal lands. Together, we are working to identify and address the barriers that many community members are facing. While I’m proud of the work we’ve done, there’s still much left to do and I look forward to building on these partnerships to continue improving outcomes for Colorado’s American Indian/Alaska Native populations.”


 

Gov. Polis and Dr. Herlihy also addressed the rising number of cases among 18-25 year olds, as well as all other age groups in Colorado, and the potential danger for community spread if not careful. Both emphasized the importance of avoiding large crowds and not attending parties in order to minimize transmission of the virus. Overall, Colorado has seen an increase in cases in all age groups. The increase is the highest in the 18-25 year old age group.


 

Gov. Polis today announced that the state would be implementing mandatory furlough days for all state employees, unless they are considered exempt, due to the budget shortfall. This thoughtful furlough plan helps address the state's budget shortfall while ensuring that the state’s lower wage workers are not impacted and we can continue to deliver high quality critical services for Coloradans. The state will save between $7-8 million and this will affect 23, 600 state employees. 


 

The Governor today amended and extended an Executive Order providing assistance to residential and commercial tenants at risk for eviction who were economically harmed by COVID-19. The Executive Order directs all landlords of rental properties to notify tenants in writing of federal protections against eviction provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Governor also extended Executive Orders addressing marriage licenses and temporary suspension of certain regulatory statutes.

 

 

9/20/20

Governor Jared Polis extended Executive Order in response to COVID-19. 


 

Governor Polis amended and extended the Safer at Home Executive Order, which includes the last call order. The last call order will now take effect, based on what level a county is in according to the COVID-19 dial. Last call is 12 a.m. in Level 1, 11 p.m. in Level 2, and 10 p.m. in Level 3. Counties in Protect Our Neighbors may opt out and establish a local last call time, so long as it does not exceed 2 a.m.


 

The Governor extended an Executive Order allowing voluntary or elective surgeries and procedures to proceed under certain conditions.

 

9/17/20

Governor Jared Polis announced today the State of Colorado has provided 1,112,000 medical-grade masks to public and private teachers and student facing faculty this Fall in order to help keep them safe from COVID-19.


 

“This is a challenging time for students, parents, and teachers which is why the State committed to providing teachers with masks, and today we are thrilled to announce that the State has provided over 1 million masks to Colorado’s teachers,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’ve visited schools across Colorado and have heard from teachers, superintendents, and educators about how they believe mask-wearing is important to keep themselves and students safe and to ensure we can overcome the challenges created by this virus together. I also want to extend my thanks to the State Emergency Operations Center and Colorado Department of Education staff members who worked tirelessly to ensure these masks were delivered to our teachers.” 


 

In July, Gov. Polis announced that the state would be distributing  KN95 masks to teachers each week in public schools across the state for at least 10 weeks, regardless of whether the school is starting in-person, in a hybrid manner, or remotely. The week of September 14 marked the seventh week of this program. This summer, the Governor also announced it would also provide masks to private school teachers across the state.


 

 

9/15/20

Gov. Jared Polis was joined by Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Department of Public Health and Environment, to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19. Dr. Herlihy addressed potentially concerning trends of rising cases, increased positivity rates, and decreased social distancing, and reminded Coloradans about the importance of wearing face coverings, washing hands, avoiding large crowds, and physically distancing. 


 

“While Colorado has fared better than our neighboring states during this pandemic we can’t lose sight of what’s at risk - our economy, our health and our livelihoods,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We need to do what works by wearing face masks, avoiding large crowds, and physically distancing ourselves in order to continue enjoying more of the Colorado we all love. I’m pleased to launch the new dial framework so our local communities can take even more control over reducing restrictions and further opening their economies, while ensuring that public health and safety are protected. Our local governments who have gone above and beyond in creating their own, more detailed metrics to protect their communities and their economies. Colorado succeeds when our communities are empowered and have the tools they need to keep people safe.”


 

Governor Polis today announced that the state would be implementing a new framework that allows countries to reopen their economies to the fullest extent possible while protecting their communities. This tool will provide transparency and predictability for local governments and allow for a visual representation of a county’s success in suppressing the virus. 


 

The dial framework has five levels to guide county response to COVID-19:

  1. Protect Our Neighbors

  2. Safer at Home 1

  3. Safer at Home 2

  4. Safer at Home 3

  5. Stay at Home


 

Counties move between levels based on three metrics:

  1. Number of new cases. 

  2. Percent positivity of COVID tests. 

  3. Impact on hospitalizations. 



 

 


 

To move to a less restrictive level (e.g., Level 2 to Level 1), counties need to meet and sustain all three metrics for two weeks. At that point, a local government can choose to move to the next level until they achieve Protect Our Neighbors. With each level comes fewer restrictions. Once a county reaches Protect Our Neighbors, for each month it is sustained, they can reopen even further because the more the virus is contained, the more flexibility for the local government to open. 


 

If a county falls out of compliance, they will have two weeks to regain compliance. If they cannot come back into compliance, they begin a consultation process with CDPHE. During the consultation process, local factors, data, and mitigations will all be considered and the county and the state will work out next steps together.


 

The dial framework will replace the general variance process in most cases, though counties may still apply for limited, site-specific variances for things like extra large venues. All current variances will remain intact, either because the variance fits under the dial framework, or because they are still recognized. 


 

Gov. Polis today extended Executive Orders to increase the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminate cost sharing, and concerning the criminal justice system.


 

View the news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page, and view the Governor’s presentation

 

 

9/10/20

Governor Jared Polis today signed an Executive Order facilitating learning pods due to the presence of COVID-19.


 

“This Executive Order temporarily suspends statute to facilitate learning pods due to the

presence of COVID-19 in Colorado, and to balance health and safety with needed flexibility for supervision and care of children who are learning remotely during this pandemic,” the Executive Order reads.


 

Gov. Polis also extended an Executive Order allowing the operation of alternate care sites in Colorado due to COVID-19.

 

 

9/8/20

Governor Jared Polis provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic today. Gov. Polis was joined by Sarah Tuneberg, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Brittany Bowlen, Denver Broncos to announce that the Broncos will have limited capacity starting on Sept. 27 when the Broncos square off against Tampa Bay.


 

“Colorado is Broncos Country and I know that everyone, including my family, has been eager to get back to football Sundays and I am thrilled to announce today that for the Denver Broncos’ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 27, we will be allowing a limited number of fans to attend,” said Gov. Polis. “We are able to take this step due to Coloradans doing our part in wearing masks and avoiding large groups and the commitment and dedication of the Broncos to go above and beyond in putting together an experience for fans that is as safe as possible. As I’ve been saying all along, this virus isn’t going away any time soon and we’ve got to figure out a way to live with this virus.”


 

Capacity at the stadium will initially be limited to about 7.5% of the stadium capacity or approximately 5,700 fans. Due to its very large size, the stadium is set up as a series of outdoor events, all following the state’s outdoor event guidance. The state and the Broncos organization will continue working together to ensure the safety of fans and players is protected and they will together re-evaluate increasing fan attendance for future home games. 


 

Every fan entering the stadium will be required to wear a mask and practice social distancing like they would in any other public place. Any fan who does not comply with mask-wearing guidelines or social distancing requirements will be required to leave the stadium. Tailgating is not permitted in parking lots and congregating in parking lots, concourses or the stadium bowl is prohibited.


 

The franchise will assign entry gates based on seat location and Broncos fans are asked to provide additional time in order to abide by social distancing requirements during the security process. 


 

Fans should stay home if they are sick, showing any COVID-19 symptoms or if they have come in close contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19. Please visit one of the state’s free, quick and easy community testing sites to get tested for COVID-19.  


 

The organization has set up safety enhancements at Empower Field at Mile High, staff will go through a health screening and temperature check, are required to wear PPE at all times, and Broncos staff will have gone through COVID-19 safety training.  The Broncos have received this approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, per the public health order requiring professional sports to get any plans for spectators approved by the state. Other venues interested in taking a similar approach must apply for a variance in conjunction with their local health department. 


 

Gov. Polis was joined by Sarah Tuneberg, Senior COVID-19 Advisory, and Innovation Response Team Leader, to announce a new partnership between the state of Colorado and Google and Apple that will leverage cutting-edge technology to help us slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s called Exposure Notification services that all Coloradans can opt-in to on their phone later this month. This mobile phone service will allow people to know if they might have been exposed to COVID without compromising their privacy or data. This is entirely optional. Privacy and security are at the core of the design of the service. The service will be offered to both iOs and Android users in Colorado. If someone opts-in, they can be notified if they’ve been exposed to the virus from another person also using the service. 


 

The technology does not track location and does not share anyone’s identity with Google, Apple, other users, or the State. But, it can give an early heads up if someone using the service has been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Every Coloradan can make the individual choice if they’d like to use this service. Colorado is one of the first states in the country to deploy this technology. Read the Frequently Asked Questions.


 

In addition, the Governor announced that three counties would be moving into the Protect Our Neighbors level: Mesa, Gilpin, and Rio Blanco. 


 

Gov. Polis today also took action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, extending Executive Orders temporarily suspending certain statutes to maintain eligibility for Coloradans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Basic Health Plan, providing assistance to residential and commercial tenants at risk for eviction, and ordering expedited unemployment insurance (UI) claim processing


 

Watch today’s news conference. 

 

 

9/8/20

Governor Jared Polis took action to address the COVID-19 pandemic.


 

Gov. Polis extended an Executive Order providing relief to public utility customers to mitigate, respond to, and recover from the current economic disruption due to the presence of COVID-19. 


 

The Governor also extended an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain statutes and rules to expand the healthcare workforce for hospitals and other inpatient treatment facilities due to the presence of COVID-19.  


 

In addition, the Governor extended an Executive Order to provide boards of county commissioners with broader discretion and greater flexibility to implement restrictions on open burning. 

 

 

 

9/7/20

Governor Jared Polis took action to address the COVID-19 pandemic.


 

The Governor extended and amended an Executive Order concerning changes to 2020 election activity to limit in-person contact while allowing the elections to proceed safely and without interruption to the Secretary of State’s operations.  This Executive Order temporarily suspends the requirements for any notarization or handwritten signature in any rules, regulations, or forms regarding the certification or acceptance of nomination, selection, or appointment. 


 

The Governor extended the Protect Our Neighbors Executive Order. The Governor also extended an Executive Order ordering the temporary suspension of certain regulatory statutes concerning juvenile justice, regional centers, and behavioral health due to the presence of COVID-19 in Colorado.

 

 

9/4/20

Gov. Jared Polis today announced the 6th round of COVID Relief Fund grantees.


 

“The generous donations of businesses, organizations, and individuals at helpColoradonow.org are critical to supporting people on the ground who are working to help those who have been directly impacted by this virus,” said Governor Jared Polis. “I’ve been fortunate enough to visit with several organizations doing this work and I’m proud of the way Coloradans have stepped up to support their efforts. While we are moving in the right direction, there is still a lot of work to do.  I know that by coming together and supporting these local efforts, we can come out of this even stronger.”


 

During the sixth round, the COVID Relief Fund awarded 78 individual applications for a total of $1,778,050. New to this deadline, the Fund began accepting applications from collaborative efforts that include three or more organizations to encourage community and regional coordination. In the sixth round, the Fund awarded grants to 19 collaborative applications for a total of $1,581,000. In total, during the sixth round the Relief Fund awarded 97 grants for a total of $3,359,050. 


 

To date, the fund has raised more than $22 million and distributed $19.7 million to nearly 800 organizations serving Coloradans in all 64 counties.


 

View the full list of grantees, cycles 1-6. View the list of donors. Visit helpcoloradonow.org to learn more.  

 

 

9/3/20

Governor Jared Polis today provided an update on Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reminded Coloradans to remain vigilant over Labor Day weekend.


 

The Governor announced that earlier this week, Colorado hit its lowest positivity rate yet, close to two percent. The positivity rate is the rate of positive results out of the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted. In March, the state was seeing positivity rates between 15-20%. Currently, some of Colorado’s neighboring states are still seeing rates that high: Kansas is at 16%, Nevada is at 15.3% and Iowa is at 18.5%. The Governor stressed the importance of Coloradans continuing to wear masks, follow social distancing protocols, and avoid large gatherings as the long Labor Day weekend approaches to maintain the state’s positive trend. 


 

“Coloradans have met the challenges of this pandemic head on, and our numbers may be declining, but we are not out of the woods,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Cases spiked after the 4th of July weekend and we can’t let that happen again after Labor Day weekend. Our success thus far is due to each individual doing their part and we can’t let up now. We need everyone, including all of our students who are back on campus, to take this seriously and act responsibly by avoiding large groups and parties and wearing a mask around others. Now is not the time to party. Be smart and be safe this weekend if you are enjoying our great outdoors. Colorado has fared better than many of our neighboring states during this pandemic, but we’re only as good as our collective actions to slow the spread of this virus.”


 

Gov. Polis was joined by CU President Mark Kennedy, David Holguin, a CU Denver student, and Dajah Brooks, a student at the University of Denver to emphasize the need for students returning to colleges and universities to continue following safety protocols to protect themselves and their peers. David is a Student Advisor with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and Latinx advancement leadership program. Dajah is the Undergraduate Student Body Vice President at the University of Denver, member of Delta Zeta sorority and the African Students United at DU. The Governor addressed recent parties at fraternities at CU Boulder, and applauded the efforts by Boulder’s Interfraternity Council on the Hill to punish these bad actors with fines.


 

Gov. Polis was also joined by Colorado Parks and Wildlife Park Ranger Michelle Seubert to remind Coloradans to recreate responsibly. The outdoors have played a critical role in giving Coloradans a safe outlet to exercise and experience nature during this pandemic. As Labor Day weekend approaches, it’s critical to remember the 7 key principles for responsible recreation: 

  • Have a plan before you go

  • Stay to the trails

  • Trash your trash

  • Leave what you find

  • Be careful with fire and abide by local fire restrictions 

  • Respect wildlife

  • Be kind and inclusive to others who are also enjoying the great outdoors


 

View the news conference on the Governor’s Facebook page

 

 

 

9/2/20

Governor Jared Polis took action today to address the COVID-19 pandemic and extended the state of disaster emergency declaration.  


 

This Executive Order extends the disaster declaration and employment of the Colorado National Guard to support and provide planning resources to State and local authorities responding to the presence of COVID-19 in Colorado.

 

9/2/20

Thousands of low-income student households in Colorado will get access to free and low-cost internet options for the 2020-21 school year, state leaders announced today at an event at Fort Logan Northgate School, a part of Sheridan School District 2.

 

As part of its nationwide effort to provide internet access to underserved students, called Project 10Million, T-Mobile will provide up to 34,000 low-income student households in Colorado with a free WiFi hotspot and 100GB of data per year for free. Qualifying households will also have access to internet-enabled devices, such as tablets or computers, at a significant discount. Households in the T-Mobile service area are eligible for the program based on student participation in the National School Lunch Program.

 

This effort fulfills one of T-Mobile’s commitments under an agreement reached last fall with the Colorado Attorney General's Office. In October 2019, after previously joining a multistate lawsuit to block the Sprint-T-Mobile merger, the Attorney General's Office negotiated a settlement in which T-Mobile committed to various actions that will increase broadband internet access for Coloradans, including providing free internet connectivity and equipment to households with school-age children.

 

In addition to T-Mobile, state leaders celebrated other provider efforts to provide low- and no-cost options for families, including Comcast’s Internet Essentials program and rural providers who stepped up to provide options for families from the Western slope to the Eastern plains. 

 

"While most school districts in Colorado are now back to school in person, there are still some families and students who choose to learn remotely or live in school districts that haven’t resumed in-person classes yet,” said Governor Jared Polis. “There are still too many students in Colorado that lack access to high-speed broadband at home to support their learning whatever form it takes. This is why the State of Colorado, Attorney General Weiser, and Colorado Department of Education are taking steps today to help more families in Colorado have access to high-speed broadband.”


 

The Governor, Attorney General, and Commissioner Antes were joined by State Senator Jeff Bridges who represents Sheridan and is working at the state legislature to bridge the digital divide, a parent, faculty members, and school district Superintendent Pat Sandos. 

 

“Now more than ever, expanding access to affordable broadband internet is necessary to ensure equitable online educational opportunities for all children in Colorado. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our entire society, including our education system, which is working to provide opportunities for online learning,’” said Weiser. “Given the existing lack of access to broadband for many students, the WiFi hotspots provided by T-Mobile and $2 million from the Colorado Department of Education will meet a critical need and be felt immediately by school-aged children throughout Colorado. This will help to narrow the homework gap.”

 

Weiser also announced that the State is filing a petition urging the Federal Communications Commission to temporarily waive some restrictions on its E-Rate Program to allow schools to extend their broadband internet networks to students’ homes for educational purposes and to allow E-Rate funds to be directed to support Wi-Fi hotspots or other broadband connections for students. If successful, this change would allow millions of dollars in support for school districts to provide access to Wi-Fi hotspots or other mechanisms that connect students to vital home learning opportunities.

 

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes announced the Department of Education will distribute $2 million from the emergency federal funding set aside for state-level activities from the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act to help school districts provide broadband access to low-income families.

 

“Our educators are working incredibly hard to support all of their students so they can continue to feel connected to school and access rigorous educational content during this pandemic, but we know that our success in providing equitable opportunities to all students hinges on the ability of students to access broadband services,” Anthes said. “The $2 million from our federal emergency funding along with the generous commitment from our broadband providers will make a meaningful and lasting difference in students’ lives.”

 

According to the School District Community Needs Inventory conducted by the  Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Education Initiative last spring, more than 65,000 students in Colorado lacked internet access.

  

 

9/1/20

Governor Polis discussed the Polis Administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and visited local organizations supported by the COVID-19 Relief Fund today in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. 


 

“It’s always terrific being in Southern Colorado and connecting with our communities and people most impacted by this devastating pandemic. Southern Colorado is a key piece of our state’s response and recovery efforts and its health is intertwined with our state’s health,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It was great to visit the new free, quick, and easy testing site at the Citadel in Colorado Springs and meet with educators to discuss their efforts to ensure every kid receives an education in a safe environment. I also enjoyed speaking with local non-profits who were helped by our COVID-19 Relief Fund in Pueblo and members of the small business community about ways to ensure we bounce back stronger than before.”

 

This morning, Gov. Polis was joined by Colorado Springs State Reps. Tony Exum and Marc Snyder and Sen. Pete Lee at the COVID-19 free, quick and easycommunity testing site the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched with El Paso County Public Health and the Colorado Springs community at The Citadel. 


 

Gov. Polis then visited Patriot Elementary School at Fort Carson and met with the superintendent, teachers, and faculty. The State is providing every school district with medical-grade KN95 masks for staff who work directly with students. This is part of the Polis Administration’s broader effort to provide schools with the resources they need to reopen safely. The State has supplied 20,000 KN95 facemasks to school districts in Pueblo and 17,150 to districts in El Paso County.


 

Colorado businesses are harnessing innovation and technology to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Polis met with ActivArmor today in Pueblo. Before the pandemic, the company provided hygienic, waterproof alternatives to traditional casting and splinting. But since the pandemic, they have adapted their business to provide N95 masks that are washable and transparent, which improves communication between health care providers and patients.


 

This afternoon, Gov. Polis visited two recipients of the COVID-19 Relief Fund,  the YWCA Pueblo with State Rep. Bri Buentello and the East Side Child Care Center with Senate President Leroy Garcia. To date, the COVID-19 Relief Fund has distributed nearly $22 million across Colorado, and in Pueblo and El Paso counties nearly $1 million has been distributed to 40 organizations. 


 

Governor Polis was joined by Senate President Leroy Garcia,  State Rep. Daneya Esgar, DOLA Executive Director Rick Garcia, and OEDIT Executive Director Betsy Markey at today’s COVID-19 briefing.


 

“This year has been historic in more ways than one, but despite undeniable difficulties, I am proud of the way we have come together on behalf of Coloradans. At the legislature, we have been able to help small businesses and hardworking Coloradans get back on their feet by passing meaningful legislation,” Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. “In Colorado, we have a long history of frontier-style fortitude – persevering with teamwork when challenges arise. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in response to this pandemic – working as a unit to build back stronger.”


 

OEDIT Executive Director Betsy Markey thanked members of the legislature for their efforts on Energize Colorado which launched this week. 


 

“Every level of Colorado’s government is working together to figure out how to make things better for all Coloradans during this challenging year. We’ve made progress but we have to remain vigilant and look out for each other in order to ensure our small businesses and workers can thrive and live in a safe manner,” said Daneya Esgar Chair of the Joint Budget Committee, D-Pueblo. “I thank Governor Polis for your efforts to help get Coloradans back on their feet and for joining us today in Pueblo.”  


 

Governor Polis also visited Crites Produce today with State Reps. Bri Buentello and Rep. Esgar and later donned a Pueblo chile mask at today’s briefing. Pueblo chiles are the best chiles and play an integral role in the agricultural economy of Colorado in addition to being a key component of the state’s culture, heritage, and history.  


 

Colorado has been able to keep our historic State Fair open thanks to the herculean efforts of the State Fair staff and Governor Polis visited the State Fair this afternoon and attended a livestock auction.  Through creative online programming, like the Day Camp for Kids, and modified events like the Drive-Thru Food Fair, they have truly reimagined the Colorado State Fair in a way that maintains iconic traditions, while keeping Coloradans safe.


 

Watch today's news conference.

© 2018 Susan Lontine