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Colorado teachers call out Governor Polis on COVID-19 testing claims

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Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 19:16:39-05

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Colorado teachers are calling out Gov. Jared Polis for making inaccurate statements during an interview on CNN.

He said educators in Colorado are getting “two tests” a week on national television.

Two Douglas County School District teachers said they are not getting two COVID-19 tests a week.

CNN anchor Erin Burnet asked Governor Polis, “Do you believe all schools in Colorado should reopen immediately?”

He had a lengthy response, but teachers said they were stunned when he said educators are getting two tests every week. He didn't clarify what kind of tests, but teachers we spoke with said it's clear he was talking about COVID-19 test.

Watch part of Polis' live statement below:

"Our state is applying free, medical-grade masks to teachers," Polis said. "We are providing two tests per week to every educator, so all of these make schools one of the safer places to be during the pandemic."

The governor's office clarified Tuesday night's statements on Thursday, saying that the in-home tests were being mailed out Thursday and that is why there was confusion on teachers' behalf as to what tests the governor was discussing on CNN.

Maria Volker, a social studies and Spanish teacher with the Douglas County School District, called the statement “unsettling.”

“I had no idea what he was talking about,” Volker said. “We don’t have two tests a week. I don’t know any teacher that does.”

Kevin DiPasquale a STEM teacher at Mountain Ridge Middle School said he is hopeful the school district will implement testing twice a week for teachers but adds it’s not the current case.

He worries the misinformation will create conflict between teachers and parents who want their kids back in school and may think it's safer now with the alleged testing.

“Receiving this information will definitely send a conflicting message to parents and educators for that matter,” DiPasquale said. “It will create a little bit of tug of war of ideas vs just looking at the facts.”

In early January, parents and students rallied outside the Douglas County School District office calling for all in-person classes.

DiPasquale said he contracted COVID-19 while he was teaching hybrid classes. He didn’t start feeling normal until about three or four weeks ago. He’s not sure how he contracted the virus or where, but one thing is clear, “I would not feel comfortable going back (to school),” he said.

DiPasquale and Volker said they won’t feel comfortable returning to all in-person classes until a number of protocols are in place.

“I am a person too. I have a family,” Volker said. “I don’t want to bring it home to them. I don’t want to get sick.”

A spokesperson with Douglas County School District said it’s partnering with COVIDCheck Colorado for free testing.

Denver Public Schools is encouraging teachers to get tested every two weeks. A spokesperson said the state plans to make COVID-19 at-home testing available every five days.

Boulder Valley School District is encouraging teachers to get tested weekly, but adds that it’s optional. The district is also providing teachers with free testing through COVIDCheck Colorado. The district launched a community testing site at Centaurus High School in Lafayette and two mobile sites that rotate between schools.

A spokesperson with Jefferson County Public Schools said they plan to participate in surveillance testing, which has been announced by the state.

Volker expressed disappointment. She said she continues to respect and support Polis, but hopes he will do his homework before making inaccurate statements on national television.

“I would just ask him to please check the facts of what is happening in each district of his state before making an announcement of that magnitude on national TV,” Volker said.

Correction: This story has been corrected to show that the governor's office did respond to Denver7's requests for comment and that the in-home tests have been mailed out as of Thursday but not received by likely won't be received by teachers until at least Monday.