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School District 51 was planning to announce this week that in-person learning at school facilities would remain on hold for the rest of the semester because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Instead, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did it for the district Monday when he announced that all K-12 schools in the state would remain closed for the semester. The decision is part of Colorado’s “Safer at Home” phase of social distancing that is set to replace the state’s stay-at-home order, which expires Sunday.

Schools in the Grand Valley will continue to provide remote learning for students.

“Our recommendation that we discussed on Monday was about that,” D51 Superintendent Diana Sirko said. “We were just kind of walking through how we would want to handle things. We were definitely headed in that direction. It was nice to have that validated by the governor.”

Graduation ceremonies have been tentatively set for Aug. 3-5, but the district has identified dates in June and July that could also serve as graduation dates in best-case scenarios.

“The Board of Education feels that August is probably the most likely date when you wouldn’t have to cancel and reschedule,” Sirko said. “We know some of our students will already be reporting to the military or college athletics, so there’s some issues with that. We’re still working on the date for graduation, but we’re trying to get it solidified because we do know families need to make decisions like arrangements for other family members.”

The format of the graduation also depends on the circumstances. Sirko said that, if needed, District 51 schools could model their graduation after what the Air Force Academy did Saturday.

With Vice President Mike Pence giving the commencement speech, graduates stood six feet apart from each other but were still able to celebrate on-campus while parents and others in the community watched the ceremony online.

“We may be able to have a more truly traditional graduation if the virus has calmed down,” Sirko said.

“We’re wanting to come up with a solid date. We’ll be discussing that in solid depth for the next few days.”

Tonight’s D51 Board of Education meeting is livestreamed on Facebook and begins at 6 p.m.

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