UPDATE: Polis Issues Order to Close Schools Until April 17

Aria Bragalone and Brandon Coon

Earlier this evening, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order closing all Colorado schools, both public and private, until April 17 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This official order by the Governor comes mere hours after a rumor spread about St. Vrain being closed until May 2. This rumor came from an agenda item from tonight’s school board meeting around extending the state of emergency declared last week to May 2. According to St. Vrain Superintendent Dr. Don Haddad, the request to extend the state of emergency is that “if we [the district] incur costs through May 2, then we can try to recover them.  We might have the opportunity to recoup some money for meals we’ve been providing and for other expenses  [. . . ] the online resources and all of the time and efforts [of the people developing them].”

Dr. Haddad was clear that the extension of the state of emergency to May 2 “does not in any way, shape, or form recommend, imply, or indicate that we are going to be closed until May 2.” He referenced the 2013 floods that damaged many district schools, where the state of emergency was extended for a time after most schools resumed for the same reason–to assist with costs that come in the aftershocks of a disaster.

Dr. Haddad did not comment about the governor’s executive order, as it happened during the school board meeting. He did, however, mention that Governor Polis “ultimately may take the decision out of our hands,” citing the recent school shutdowns in California and Kansas by the governors there. As the district is currently bracing for a weather event tonight, we should expect to hear from Dr. Haddad about the governor’s executive order tomorrow or Friday.

So why aren’t we declaring that school’s out until after Easter? At the Scout, we believe in responsible journalism. Dr. Haddad also took time during the school board meeting to ask a favor of the media: “Please, if [you’re] going to communicate about our district, please communicate with detail.” Unfortunately, some local news outlets jumped the gun and misleadingly declared that SVVSD schools were shut down until May 2.

“When you put a headline like that out there, it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways. It doesn’t take much,” Dr. Haddad said,  “and all the sudden everyone’s making assumptions based on something they read [. . . ] and it’s unfortunate that we would have to respond to [such a rumor] because this was simply a technicality that comes from experiencing these types of situations.”

That’s why, though it seems extremely likely that SVVSD will be closed until April 17, we are waiting for official district communication to confirm that fact… and we’ll let you know as soon as we do. Stay subscribed to the Scout for the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak.