Reflecting on one year of school during COVID-19 in Colorado: Here's what we learned this week

Posted at 10:08 AM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 12:10:39-05

I’m Denver7 education reporter Nicole Brady. Welcome to our new “education notebook,” where I will discuss the big education stories of the week and talk about the challenges and opportunities for education in Colorado.

DENVER — This week, like many, I’m in a reflective mood. Tomorrow, March 13, will mark one year since most kids in Colorado were in “normal” school. The concept of “remote learning” first entered our lives.

Few realized how long it would be before kids would be back in classrooms. Once schools opened, it was a new world, with masks and cohorts. We all sympathized with the Class of 2020, but didn’t realize the Class of 2021 would have it just as bad.

It’s been a cruel year for many school children, and I fear we won’t know the full impact on their learning, social development, and mental health for some time. But I also have faith that families, schools and communities will pull together to do the best for our kids. I truly believe we must focus on the positive and work harder than ever.

What we learned this week

• This week I discussed the changes and challenges of the past school year in a live Facebook chat with some parents and teachers. You can watch that here:

• I also took a deep dive into the future of higher education. We learned online learning could remain a bigger part of college life. But colleges are struggling with budget cuts and enrollment declines, and if higher education is going to help our economy rebound, it will likely take more investment. Colleges are also looking at how to close equity gaps, to make sure everyone who wants to complete a degree, has the support they need to do so.

• At the state capitol, lawmakers moved forward on an effort to limit CMAS testing this year. Gov. Jared Polis could sign this bill as soon as Monday, allowing Colorado to request a federal waiver.

• Another school district announced plans to offer a remote learning option for the 2021-2022 school year. Douglas County is surveying parents to gauge interest. JeffCo Public Schools and Boulder Public Schools have also announced e-learning plans for the future.

• And Snow Days are back! Sort of. Denver Public Schools announced a new policy for inclement weather. The district will call a snow day for the first day of weather, then if schools need to remain closed, the second day and subsequent days will be remote learning days.

What I'm working on

I’ve been talking to educators and experts about what “learning loss” really means and how we will overcome it. Next week, we expect the Colorado Department of Education to make a presentation to state lawmakers about learning loss recovery.

Questions? Reach out!

I think we are all curious about how much “remote learning” will remain a part of K-12 and higher education as we move past the pandemic. Have questions? Please send me your thoughts at