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COVID-19 and Colorado School closures graphic (By Taylor Sumners)

This week, the Salida School District and the Buena Vista School District held their regular meetings and among the agenda items was a discussion by both districts on emergency preparedness with regard to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

In addition, many colleges, universities, along with other school closures and modified schedules are occurring statewide.

Buena Vista School District

The Buena Vista School Board meeting was held on Monday, March 9. “We continue to have weekly scenario meetings where we say ‘what would happen if?’ and Chaffee County Public Health is in on those meetings as well,”said Buena Vista Schools Superintendent Lisa Yates. Her comments came during an update on the Emergency Operations Plan to the board.

“I feel like we are as prepared as we can be and we are really following the direction of Public Health. They have been great about having good communication, information to send along to parents too. I feel like that is our biggest role; to let our families know that we are really staying in communication and doing the same things that we are doing in our homes and that is: paying attention to where the spread is,” said Yates.

She continued, “The question of what would we do if Public Health recommended limiting large groups of people getting together, which would include the schools, is that the likelihood is that it would not be a day, it would be two weeks because of the incubation period.”

Yates shared that Buena Vista School District is looking into how they would need to transfer classes for Middle School and High School to an online platform in the event of an announcement from Chaffee Public Health. Yates said that one of their biggest concerns is looking out for their graduating seniors who cannot afford to miss out on completing credit hours before graduation. Yates shared that she expects guidance from the Colorado Department of Education with regard to credit completion for all grades.

Salida School District

The Salida School Board meeting was the following evening on Tuesday, March 10. In attendance was Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom. “Salida School District Superintendent David Blackburn said, “We have updated our Highly Infectious Disease Response Plan, and our nurses are doing a great job.”

“If you were to summarize our plan, it is to call Andrea Carlstrom,” said Blackburn as he shared some examples of what the procedure is in the plan. “Every single day we are talking to her team and receiving updates.”

Blackburn added while addressing the Salida School Board, “I just want to make really clear and we have [Facilities and Safety Director Brandon Hawkins] in here tonight, that we far exceed any cleaning standards that are out there. Thankfully, Brandon bought an electrostatic sprayer around Christmas time. Since we have had that, there has been a large backorder on them. It basically through electrostatic technology, it mists the whole room and sticks onto every single surface. That has been happening on a regular basis in all of our buildings every single week. It’s important for the public to know that we are taking this very serious and are working very hard at sanitizing.”

“The information that is being pushed out is on an hour-to-hour basis. By the time I am sending guidance documents out or emails to our community or to our press, there are immediate updates,” said Carlstrom.

She continued, “In the midst of Spring Break, we are carefully monitoring community behavior and again, just pushing prevention strategies that may include social distancing at some point. We are looking at how we can have events virtually, meetings virtually and currently are making tough decisions on events going virtual.  However, the health and wellness of our community is the most important aspect. It’s a minor inconvenience right now, but we need to get through understanding what COVID-19 really looks like and the effect it has on our society.”

Activities and Sports practices cancelled

The Salida School District announced on Thursday, March 12, “Per the Colorado High School Activities Association, there will be NO team practices or games/events allowed through April 6.

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), along with multiple state agencies, will continue to evaluate the COVID-19 situation and make the decision to either resume the spring season on April 7, at a later date or cancel it.” Salida High School and Middle School have cancelled and postponed all spring sports effective immediately through April 6th.

Local Higher Education campuses have also taken precautions for the safety of their students. Western Colorado University located in Gunnison, CO released a statement to students announcing the precautions they are taking.

Western Colorado University President Greg Salsbury addressed his students in a letter, “As we watch events unfold related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we know we must act quickly to mitigate risks to our campus community and find alternate ways to maintain campus operations. This morning, I announce that effective end of day today (March 12), we are suspending on-campus classes, and we intend to deliver these classes online and through teleconference from Monday, March 23 through at least Friday, April 3, ideally resuming classes on campus Monday, April 6. Classes scheduled for tomorrow Friday, March 13 are cancelled.”

Colorado Mountain College (CMC)  included on their website, “CMC is closely monitoring news and information about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, although at this point the risk of contracting the virus in Colorado is low. We have college-wide and campus-based emergency preparedness plans and are updating them to guide the college’s response in the event of the spread of a highly infectious disease such as COVID-19.”

The Denver Post said, “This is a running list of schools and colleges in Colorado that are closed because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. This list will be updated periodically and at least once a day. This was last updated on March 12 at 8:30 a.m.” 

The following list was published by The Denver Post at 8:30 a.m. on March 12:

Front Range

  • Colorado College suspends in-person classes, moving to remote learning on March 30
  • Cory Elementary School in Denver is closed March 11-12 after a parent of two students tested positive
  • Colorado School of Mines will go online-only beginning March 30, following spring break
  • Colorado State University cancels in-person classes starting March 25. The Fort Collins campus’ spring break begins March 14 and has been extended through March 24, with online courses resuming the following day and continuing until April 10, at which point the campus will re-evaluate the situation and act accordingly.
  • Edison Elementary School is closed Thursday after a parent of a child at the school tested positive for the new coronavirus.
  • Front Range Community College is canceling classes the week of March 16 on the Boulder and Westminster campuses and the week of March 23 on the Larimer campus. Starting March 30, classes on all campuses will resume, mostly online.
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver is going online-only beginning March 30, likely for the remainder of the semester
  • Naropa University in Boulder is moving to remote education beginning March 30 after students return from spring break, which starts March 23
  • University of Colorado: CU Boulder moves to online classes on March 16; CU Denver moves to online classes by March 30; CU Colorado Springs moves to online classes on March 30, resumes in-person classes on April 14
  • University of Denver will move to online courses, including at the Sturm College of Law, beginning March 17 and running at least until April 10. In-person final exams, which begin on Tuesday, are being moved online. In-person Interim classes during spring break are canceled, but online courses will continue.
  • University of Northern Colorado in Greeley is transitioning to online education beginning March 23, following spring break, and through April 5. Face-to-face teaching is scheduled to resume April 6, but that could change.
  • U.S. Air Force Academy closed the campus to visitors on March 13 at 5 p.m.


  • Fort Lewis College in Durango will convene classes as scheduled Thursday and Friday preceding spring break. Classes following spring break on March 23 and 24 are canceled. Courses will be moved online from March 25 through April 6, and the college will update the campus community about the future from there.

Western Slope

  • Colorado Mesa University moves classes online for two weeks following spring break from March 23-April 5
  • Western Colorado University moves classes online beginning Monday, March 23 through at least Friday, April 3. Classes scheduled for Friday, March 13 are canceled.

The Denver Post is keeping a running list of school closures and modified schedules. The link to that list can be found here: