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Colorado’s stay-at-home order doesn’t apply to these school functions

Staff distribute laptops to families at Denver’s Joe Shoemaker School on March 25, 2020, as schools prepare for remote learning.
Staff distribute laptops to families at Denver's Joe Shoemaker School on March 25, 2020, as schools prepare for remote learning.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Colorado’s schools can continue to provide “essential services” to students under the statewide stay-at-home order that went into effect Thursday.

Gov. Jared Polis had previously said that schools would still be able to distribute meals and prepare for remote learning should Colorado adopt a stay-at-home order, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the same on Monday when the city issued its own order.

The order requires people to stay at home unless they need groceries or medicine, need to care for another person, or are getting outdoor exercise in a way that doesn’t put them in close contact with another person. People who work in critical businesses and services are also exempt. The order is in effect from Thursday through at least April 11. This is a key part of the state’s strategy as officials seek to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Separately, all public and private K-12 schools are closed at least through April 17, while child care centers remain open with some restrictions.

While the state public health order issued Wednesday explicitly carved out child care centers as critical services, it didn’t mention school functions that are still taking place. On Thursday, Polis released an updated public health order that clarified which school functions are exempt.

Public and private K-12 schools can still provide meals and do work related to facilitating distance learning, including distributing laptops and educational packets. Universities and colleges can also operate to the extent necessary to prepare for remote learning and provide housing, medical, mental health, and food services to students who need it. Critical research projects can also continue.

Schools and other critical businesses still need to exercise social distancing by having staff and volunteers work 6 feet apart whenever possible.

Other critical businesses exempt from the stay-at-home order include health care, grocery stores, pharmacies, utilities, organizations that serve disadvantaged groups, oil and gas operations, chemical and computer manufacturing, and banks.

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