Q&A: With Colorado Governor Jared Polis

DENVER%2C+CO+-+MARCH+10%3A+Gov.+Jared+Polis+speaks+during+a+press+conference+in+the+Governor%27s+office+at+the+Colorado+Capitol+on+Tuesday+morning%2C+March+10%2C+2020.+%28Photo+by+Hyoung+Chang%2FThe+Denver+Post%29

DP

DENVER, CO – MARCH 10: Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a press conference in the Governor’s office at the Colorado Capitol on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

LampPost Staff

The 2020-21 Newspaper staff asked Colorado governor Jared Polis some questions ranging from gun control in light of the Boulder mass shooting, to his plan for reopening schools this fall and his hopes for football  this coming fall.

Q: Colorado has been on the national stage too many times for mass shootings. In light of what recently happened in Boulder, and gun control being again at the forefront of people’s minds, what steps are you and the state of Colorado going to take moving forward to help prevent another senseless tragedy in our community?

A: Unfortunately, Colorado is all too familiar with tragedies like what happened at STEM School two years ago or in Boulder last month, and historically we have led the way in common sense gun safety reform. We closed the gun show loophole following Columbine, passed a series of laws following Aurora, including requiring a background check for anyone buying a gun, and recently, the state passed a red flag law in 2019, which we know is working to prevent tragedies by keeping weapons from those who are in crisis, and who pose an immediate danger to themselves and others.
And since taking office, we have made great strides to streamline Colorado’s behavioral health system, improving access by expanding telehealth services and lowering health care costs. People in a mental health crisis need access to care. This year the state is contemplating measures to expand mental health support, help ensure safe storage of firearms, and require more stringent reporting for lost and stolen guns, and a waiting period for purchasing a gun.

Colorado flag States package - Country flagsQ: The pandemic has presented major challenges across the country. As you look at how Colorado has handled it, what makes you the most proud of its citizens?

A: I am proud of Coloradans for stepping up, wearing masks, and reducing the amount of socialization with others. Protecting health and safety has been a top priority. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked to balance saving lives and protecting public health, while allowing for the maximum amount of economic and social activity. Coloradans have been forced to be apart from their friends and loved ones, we’ve given up special celebrations like holidays, birthdays, weddings, graduations, and so much more. None of this has been easy, but at each step along the way, Coloradans, including all of you at Holy Family, have continued stepping up to do what was right, following public health orders to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities – saving countless lives in the process.

Q: You recently appointed new members to Colorado’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission. What are the greatest benefits of bringing a diverse set of stakeholders to work with kids?

A: Learning and development is strongest in an environment where diverse perspectives and voices are shared. Diversity can help build understanding of different perspectives and the broader outside world, that in turn will foster respect and tolerance as well as teach children to think more critically. We also think it is important to have those making decisions for our state’s families reflect the diverse population of our state. Unrelated note, did you know that the Governor’s Director of Boards and Commissions is a Holy Family Alumni?  Yes, Kate Siegel Shimko is a key member of my senior team and is doing a great job and she speaks very highly of Holy Family.


Reopening schools this fall still in question, but draft guidelines will help districts planQ: We have been lucky enough to be live and in person all year long at Holy Family. Other schools have not been so lucky. What is your plan to get schools across Colorado open for in-person learning this fall?

A: I am so glad to hear that all of you have been able to attend school in-person this year. We understand that learning from a computer is not the same as in-person learning, and we need schools to open as quickly and as safely as possible. This has been a top priority for me all year, and nearly all schools in Colorado are now open for in-person learning. My administration has taken a number of important steps to do this. We distributed medical-grade masks to schools statewide for free. We prioritized educators and school staff for the vaccine far earlier than most states across the country. We implemented a COVID-19 testing program, BinaxNow, which shipped rapid COVID tests to schools and teachers’ homes for free through the end of this school year. We updated our guidance on in-person learning as our scientists learned more about COVID-19. These steps have played a critical role in allowing the majority of Colorado’s schools to open for in-person learning. Because most are already open, and the general public now has access to the vaccine, we expect that the students across the state will be in the classroom as normal this fall.

CHSAA releases schedule, re-alignment for 2020 football seasonQ: The on again off again start to the football season was frustrating for all parties. We were thankful for the chance to play, as were all the sports that followed. What went into your decision making with the CHSAA and health officials to make sports happen again?

A: We worked closely with CHSAA to ensure that student athletes were able to participate in their sports in as safe a manner as possible, while not jeopardizing in-person learning. I wanted to make sure that every sport had a season, but different districts wanted the seasons at different times. Thankfully CHSAA helped solve the problem by creating two football seasons and allowing schools to pick the one the wanted. Throughout this year, in-person learning has been our top priority for students and not all schools were ready to have a fall football season this last year. Next year, I look forward to celebrating the start of the normal fall football season right alongside the rest of our student-athletes and their families.

Q: Bonus question for fun: Godzilla or Kong?

A: KONG!