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School districts say so far the governor is keeping his promise to provide masks for teachers

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 31, 2020

DENVER — As students and teachers adjust to the new normal of class during COVID-19, several school districts say so far, the governor is keeping his promise to help.

“We have enough medical-grade masks that we will be able to send some medical-grade masks to school districts. We will be able to help school districts meet the needs of their teachers. We are going to be able to get at least one mask a week per teacher," Governor Jared Polis said during a press conference in July.

To date, Denver Pubic School has received 30,000 KN95 masks from the state and will receive another 10,000 more per week over the next seven weeks, according to a district spokesperson. DPS employs roughly 4,800 classroom teachers.

Those masks accompany the 417,225 masks the district has ordered on its own, which include cloth and disposable options. DPS says it is planning on ordering an additional 200,000 masks to supplement its supply.

In Cherry Creek meanwhile, the district says it is receiving 7,300 masks per week from the state for its roughly 3,000 teachers.

A district spokesperson says it has received three shipments from the governor’s office so far and is expecting another one on Tuesday.

CCSD has also purchased more than 30,000 KN95 masks and 35,400 cloth masks for staff.

A Jefferson County spokesperson says it has received a few shipments of masks from the state as well and has made one delivery to schools so far.

JeffCo Schools says the governor’s office has provided 14,000 masks and that on its own it has been able to distribute one reusable mask to every employee, one clear mask to all teachers and one face shield to any staff who work closely with students.

Further south, Douglas County School District says it has received 30,000 KN95 masks from the governor and that those masks have been distributed to schools and support staff.

However, Kallie Leyba, the president of the Douglas County Federation, says the availability of those masks varies from school to school

“I know some of the teachers have only gotten a mask if they ask the principal for it. Other teachers maybe their principals haven’t even talked about it and they didn’t even know that was an availability for them,” Leyba said.

She was excited about the governor’s promise to help districts and said overall things have been going well in the schools. However, as with everything dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Leyba says there’s always room for adjustments.

“I would really like to see us teachers being given five masks to last them five weeks and some proper training and information about how to disinfect them,” she said. “Our teachers and staff to my knowledge I’ve not been properly trained on how to disinfect one of those masks.”

Some of her members have also expressed concerns about students and staff wearing bandanas or gator masks since they have been proven to be less effective in stopping the spread of droplets.

She’s working with the district’s superintendent to see whether a policy can be made to address these types of masks.

Despite this, Leyba says she is encouraged by the state’s overall COVID-19 numbers and says the district is already discussing returning to 100 percent in person learning.

“We have had a couple of schools with cases. In general, it’s been pretty limited. That’s pretty pleasing, but I think we have to be cautious,” Leyba said.

She doesn’t want to rush back to 100 percent in person learning until a few weeks after Labor Day to see how the holiday affects the state’s overall COVID-19 numbers.

For now, districts say they are receiving the supplies they need to be able to provide students and staff with masks and the state is fulfilling its promise to help.

The governor's office released the following statement:

"The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has delivered 672,750 medical grade KN95 masks to Colorado schools. Four of ten shipments for this week are complete and the remaining shipments will be completed by Friday. Masks are provided to staff members who work directly with students at any K-12 public school, private school, charter, BOCES, district and facility school regardless of whether the school is starting in-person, in a hybrid manner, or remotely."