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Preschool classes of 24 during the pandemic? Yes, that’s allowed now in Colorado

Preschoolers play dress-up on a recent morning at Fairview Elementary in the Westminster school district. Ann Schimke | Chalkbeat

Colorado child care providers are no longer limited to just 10 children per classroom now that the state has eased rules put in place when the coronavirus pandemic began.

Starting Thursday, the state allowed providers to go back to normal class sizes, which are 14 to 16 in most toddler classrooms and 20 to 24 in preschool classrooms. Classrooms with infants are always limited to 10 children. While many child care centers and home-based providers closed their doors when the pandemic hit, others stayed open for essential workers, often serving just a handful of students per classroom.

The return to the usual child care group size rules reflects Colorado’s momentum toward reopening its economy and getting residents back to work, but stands in contrast to the state’s new rules on day camps for school-age children. Those rules, which took effect Monday, limit day camp group size to 10 school-age children indoors, less than half of what is now allowed for the oldest preschool children. Outdoor camps are allowed to have up to 25 children per group.

Gov. Jared Polis has also recently floated the idea of reopening K-12 schools with 20 to 25 students per classroom — another signal that state leaders are hoping coronavirus won’t derail the school year again, or keep parents from reporting to work. For now, though, state rules still cap K-12 classrooms at 10 people.

Despite the return to pre-pandemic class sizes for young children, child care providers are still subject to a variety of other rules meant to decrease the chance of spreading the virus. These include checking staff and child temperatures daily, cleaning high-touch surfaces like tables and doorknobs frequently, and maintaining 6 feet of space between people whenever possible.

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