A temporarily closed sign hangs to the entrance of the Town Center at Aurora, March 24, 2020. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Colorado’s unemployment rate jumps to 11.3% in April

DENVER  |  Colorado’s unemployment rate surged to a record 11.3% in April as the state lost over 323,000 jobs because of the economic shutdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the state labor department said Friday.

The unemployment rate is the highest for Colorado since it began keeping comparable records in 1976. The previous record high unemployment rate for the state was 8.9% which held from September to December 2010, the department said. Nationally, the unemployment rate increased in April to 14.7%, the highest since similar records began in 1948.

According to a survey of businesses, 311,400 non-farm jobs were lost in the private sector and 12,100 jobs were cut in government in Colorado last month. Some of the largest job losses were in the leisure and hospitality, education and health services, trade, transportation and utilities, professional and business services and construction sectors, the department said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.


AURORA | State health officials believe there are three cases of a rare syndrome connected COVID-19 in children in the state.  

Three presumed cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C, have been forwarded on to the Centers for Disease Control, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Herlihy. 

The syndrome is much like Kawasaki Disease, doctors say. Those symptoms “include fever, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat,” according to the CDC.

While rare, there are only about 100 cases of MIS-C in the U.S. so far, Herlihy said parents should contact their child’s physician if they exhibit any Kawasaki-like symptoms, have a prolonged fever or are having abdominal pain.

MIS-C could have long-lasting effects if not treated early, doctors say. 

Children’s Hospital Colorado is treating the three Colorado patients, according to Dr. Samuel Dominguez, who specializes in pediatric infectious disease at the north Aurora facility. 

Children with Kawasaki Disease are mostly toddler-aged, but MIS-C patients tend to be older than that, according to the duo of doctors who gave updates with Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday. 

COVID-19 cases in children have been mostly mild and generally haven’t required hospitalization. Even so, doctors said parents should keep an eye out for MIS-C symptoms because they could occur weeks after the COVID-19 virus.

— KARA MASON, StaffWriter



Some RTD riders practice social distancing while waiting on their bus, April 3, 2020, at the stop on Colfax Avenue at Florence Street.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | People living along the East Colfax corridor needing housing assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for $500  “mini-grants” from The Fax Partnership. 

“We know many families in the East Colfax community may really be struggling; and we hope these grants will help provide a bit of support at a time of great need,” said Monica Martinez, executive director at The Fax, in a statement.

The corridor runs along East Colfax Avenue from Colorado Boulevard in Denver into northwest Aurora,  which has seen some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the city.

The grants from The Fax have been made available by a $30,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation. 

To apply for the aid, residents should complete an online survey, which is available in English, Spanish, Oromo, and Swahili, or call 720-459-0591 to receive a physical copy of the survey.

The surveys “assess the broader community regarding income, housing, and financial literacy,” according to The Fax. Martinez said  the surveys would also help the organization identify which services are needed, such as housing and utility assistance and food access. 

The grant survey will be open through May 31.

For more information about The Fax Partnership, visit www.thefaxdenver.com

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer



A temporarily closed sign hangs to the entrance of a storefront in Aurora, March 24, 2020. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Despite facing a more than  $20 million decline in revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic, city council members have decided against asking voters to keep excess property tax revenues.

Staff estimate that the city could keep about $3.3 million per year under the now-defunct “de-Brucing” proposal. That’s about $12 a year that will not be returned to taxpayers owning a home valued at about $250,000, although that amount may have differed depending on taxes paid.

Most council members worried about bringing the measure to Aurora voters as many are facing economic hardships of their own. 

Staff said it typically costs about $150,000 to run a ballot question, and some members worried that it’d be wasted money this election year.

The money would have been used to backfill lost general fund revenues, according to city documents. That amount equates to the annual salary of 44 full-time employees, the annual operating cost of two fire stations for a year, or about half of the annual operating costs for all library facilities in the city.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

Signs direct voters to a 2019 ballot drop-off box at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Colfax Ave. in Aurora.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

DENVER | A libertarian think tank said Monday it will start gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to cut income taxes with the blessing of state free-market advocates.

If successful, the signature-gathering drive will land a proposal on the November ballot to cut the state’s flat income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent. Voters would then approve or deny the tax plan. 

Jon Caldara of the Denver-based Independence Institute said in an email the tax cut, dubbed Initiative No. 306, would “get Colorado’s economy back to its former strength, by putting money back into the pockets of those who earned it.”

High-income earners would benefit most from the tax cut, according to a legislative council staff report. 

An individual earning $250,000 would owe the state $11,375 in income taxes — or $200 less, annually. A Coloradan earning $50,000 annually would pay $2,275, or $40 less than the current tax. 

Caldara said the tax cut would help spur economic recovery, allowing earners to inject their money back into the economy instead of government. 

The state legislature staff report said the economic cost or benefit would depend on the state of the economy but estimated big cuts to government revenue at a time when lawmakers say the state’s fiscal outlook is grim. 

Under the plan, the state government would lose more than $4 million in the next two years. This fiscal year, the state budgeted about $32.5 billion in spending to fund schools, health care, universities, jails and other functions. 

Lawmakers expect to hand down cuts to education and other services this month. Already, the state legislature projected revenue losses above $3 billion because of plummeting sales tax and other revenues as the novel coronavirus pandemic plunges the economy into a deep recession or depression. 

Caldara said state legislative analysts use incomplete economic models, and that the tax cut could eventually bring more revenue into state government coffers. 

In a press release, free-market organizations lauded the tax cut plan as a way to keep much-needed income in households. 

“The question is simple: who needs your money most right now — you, or the government?” said Jesse Mallory, state director of Americans for Prosperity, the political network founded by industrial titans David and Charles Koch.  “Colorado voters should have that choice in November.”

If enough signatures are collected, voters will consider the tax cut measure and other tax overhaul proposals — including a progressive tax plan also billed as a general tax cut — when voting in November. 

-GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer 


Colorado Governor Jared Polis wears a face mask as he heads into a news conference to update reporters on the state’s efforts to stem the rise of the new coronavirus Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AURORA | When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available — which is not expected for several months at the soonest — it’ll likely only be for Colorado’s most vulnerable to the virus. 

Gov. Jared Polis said during a news briefing on Friday that he and health officials are in early talks about what vaccine distribution would look like across the state when one is finally distributed. 

The demand in Colorado will be higher than what the state is provided with, he said, highlighting that’s currently the focus of talks right now. 

Previously Polis has taken a personal choice position on vaccines, even telling the Sentinel last legislative session that he would be open to local governments making their own decisions on mandating vaccines. 

He didn’t say whether his position has evolved on the matter over the course of the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 1,100 lives in Colorado. More than 20,000 people in the state have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In addition to a vaccine, contact tracing and significantly ramped up testing have been the talking points of returning to a more normal way of life. 

Polis said he expects the state to test between 5,000 and 10,000 people per day for the rest of May. The ideal number of tests each day is 10,000 tests.


Arapahoe County offices closed March 17 indefinitely because of the new coronavirus crisis. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Arapahoe County is set to slowly emerge from its prolonged COVID-19 chrysalis Monday, opening many county buildings that have been closed to the public since March.

Courthouses, human services payment kiosks, and the assessor’s office are just a few of the entities slated to open Monday May 18. Services provided by the Arapahoe County clerk and recorder, treasurer and sheriff’s office will also open, though nearly all services will be appointment-only. Anyone seeking to make an appointment can do so by visiting ArapahoeGov.com/COVID19.

Those seeking to remit child support payments can do so on a walk-up basis at the CentrePoint Plaza building in Aurora. The sheriff’s office will be taking appointments for new concealed handgun permits and fingerprinting, according to a news release. Driver’s license and passport service typically offered in the county administration building in Littleton remain suspended until further notice.

Both patrons and staffers will be required to wear masks in all county buildings until further notice, and social distancing markings will adorn floors and queue lines. Buildings will operate at 50-percent staff capacity for the foreseeable future.

“If officials at a facility or office determine that a space’s capacity is getting too constrained to practice safe social distancing, they have the authority to limit further visits or move people to waiting areas until the number of patrons drops to an acceptable level,” county spokesman Luc Hatlestad wrote in a news release.

Courthouses across Arapahoe County are slated to hear more cases beginning Monday, though strict social distancing protocols will remain in effect. All jury trials in the state remain postponed through July.



AURORA | The new location for an Aurora marijuana dispensary will become the site of a cornucopia offering hedonistic pleasures — cheap joints, burgers — while unveiling public art and a charitable donation Saturday. 

Dispensary chain The Green Solution will unveil its new Aurora location, 10195 E. Montview Blvd., 2 p.m. May 16. It’s less than a mile from the bud shop’s current Aurora spot at 1450 Havana St.

On Saturday, a stoner festival with a dash of social responsibility will descend on the new location — all with the necessary social distancing rules, according to a press release. 

Local artist Pat Milbery will unveil a mural on the new building before the chain dispensary’s brass cut the ribbon and announce a donation to homeless service provider Aurora Warms the Night. 

Then, customers in the vicinity can help themselves to free cheeseburgers from Denver food truck Burgerchief and deals on pre-roll joints, swag bags and coupons. 

The building and area will be thoroughly disinfected, and all employees will be wearing personal protective equipment. The dispensary asks that customers eschew direct contact with staff while loading up on goodies. 


Arapahoe County offices closed March 17 indefinitely because of the new coronavirus crisis. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

Arapahoe County buildings remained closed

AURORA | Arapahoe County buildings will still remain closed even as stay-at-home orders have lifted and some businesses are reopening.

A news update from the county says safety measures are currently being put in place. Those include “retrofitting public points of contact with Plexiglas, rearranging public waiting areas and staggering employee schedules to ensure social distancing, posting safety guidelines signage at each building, deep cleaning ‘high contact’ areas.”

Details on county buildings reopening are expected next week.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer


STRIDE Community Health Center offered drive-thru COVID-19 tests, March 23, 2020 at an Aurora location. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA |  Aurora’s newest COVID-19 testing spot is  Friday at Overland High School.

Some tests will be available May 8 for community members at the school, located at 12400 E. Jewell Ave. courtesy of a partnership between the Cherry Creek School District and STRIDE Community Health Center.
Drive-through swabbing will take place during two time blocks: In the morning, from 9 a.m. to noon, and an afternoon session from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. if supplies don’t run out.
The tests are first-come, first-serve, but only 200 will be available. The testing is “open to any individual in need in the community that has experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days,” STRIDE said in a statement. 
STRIDE asks people seeking tests to their bring photo ID and insurance card, if applicable, with them to the testing site. Insurance isn’t required, and no fees are collected during the testing. 


Motorists park along Highway 36 to watch jet pilots from the Colorado Air National Guard take part in a flyover across the Boulder Valley as part of a statewide tour to honor essential workers on the job during the rise of the new coronavirus Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Declining rate of COVID-19 hospitalization is good news for Aurora region, officials say

AURORA | Despite only seeing a plateau of COVID-19 cases throughout the extended stay-at-home order for Adams and Arapahoe counties — not a decline — health officials are readying a transition to the state “safer-at-home” model. 

The stay-at-home extension, which came with exceptions, expires at midnight on May 8 and will allow many non-critical businesses to reopen their doors with some restrictions.

Dr. John Douglas, executive director of Tri-County Health Department, said at a board of health meeting Wednesday that “cases aren’t really declining” across the tri-county region, which includes Douglas, Arapahoe and Adams counties. 

Those numbers could be remaining stable because of more available testing, he said. According to the department, testing has increased by 109 percent in Adams County and 86 percent in Arapahoe County.

A better indicator of how the virus is spreading may be hospitalizations, he said. Those are declining in each of the three counties.

Douglas County, which was not included in the department’s public health order to extend stay-at-home, has seen a slight uptick in cases, Dr. Douglas said. That could also be due to testing capability. Douglas County has the highest proportion in testing of the three counties.

Hospitalization trends in Douglas County are similar to those in Adams and Arapahoe counties.

“We want to thank our entire community for the unprecedented effort made by so many to enhance our social distancing and allow us to make our communities safer during the COVID-19 epidemic:  this has clearly involved social, psychological, and economic hardship for many. While COVID-19 will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future, our hospitals now have sufficient capacity and medical equipment and we have the support systems in place to deliver the best healthcare we can if a surge should take place.” Dr. Douglas said in a statement this week. “I am grateful for the sacrifices that our community has made to slow the spread of COVID-19 and we must remain vigilant to continue that trend and keep our communities safe while we gradually re-open our businesses.”

As Dr. Douglas has been assessing the steps to allowing more businesses to re-open, even if in limited capacity, he’s been weighing the public health impact if they remain closed. 

“We have suffered economically, psychologically, and socially,” he said during a news conference with Aurora leaders on Thursday, highlighting that more and more people are seeking mental health services during this crisis. “I’m more worried about chronic and behavioral illness that have sort of been going under the radar screen.”

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

The fairways at Meadow Hills GC remained empty for one final day, May 5, 2020, as Aurora municipal golf courses are slated to open May 6 after they were closed on March 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado)

AURORA | The city of Aurora will reopen its municipal golf courses Wednesday, nearly six weeks after they were closed due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city closed Aurora Hills G.C., Meadow Hills G.C., Murphy Creek G.C., Saddle Rock G.C. and Springhill G.C. and all golf facilities on March 20 and they stayed shuttered for 47 days in total, though courses were maintained by minimal personnel to be ready for play.

Aurora Hills, Meadow Hills and Saddle Rock are scheduled to open Wednesday, followed by Springhill on Friday. Murphy Creek is not yet ready for play and remains closed.

Changes have definitely taken place, as rounds will be walking only (no carts) and tee times must be booked by calling the golf courses individually. Aurora has long had an online option to book tee times, but a new system is not yet working. Golf shops also remain closed to the public.

Social distancing (6-feet) is required during play and masks are encouraged, while the city asks that anyone awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test or showing any signs of a fever or respiratory ailment stay off the courses. Violators will be asked to leave with no refunds (full City of Aurora golf COVID-19 policies, here).

The city of Denver closed its courses before Aurora in March and reopened on April 22.

Course contact information: Aurora Hills G.C. (303-739-1550), Meadow Hills G.C. (303-326-8450), Saddle Rock G.C. (303-326-8460), Springhill G.C. (303-739-6854), Murphy Creek G.C. (303-739-1560).

— Courtney Oakes,  Sports Editor 

Aurora students, file photo  (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Arts-based charter school delays opening a year due to pandemic 

AURORA | A north Aurora charter school tailored for Latinx and black students won’t open in the fall as expected because of “unique” logistical challenges to education posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Visions Performing Arts College Prep was slated to open in fall 2020 and provide arts-based educations for area students. Now, the school said in a statement, the school will open in fall 2021 to serve 200 students, half in sixth grade and half in ninth grade. Prospective students will have to delay transferring to the charter school and begin trainings in theater, creative writing, audio engineering and other disciplines. 

“The pandemic created an extremely unique hardship and amplified the challenges of opening,” said school co-founder and executive director Auset Maryam Ali. “Our founding team, board and the CSI board support this decision with the wisdom that this will ensure sustainability for VPAC for years to come. While this decision was hard emotionally, we are beyond confident that this is the best strategic move for the longevity of VPAC.”

The school is authorized by the state’s charter school monitoring wing, the Charter School Institute. 

The school will replace Vision Performing Arts Company, an arts nonprofit that works in Aurora and nearby Denver Public Schools to provide workshops for dance, theater and spoken word poetry.

Ali has been deeply involved in Aurora’s arts scene, having served on the City of Aurora Cultural Affairs Commission and managed her nonprofit for about 15 years.


An F-16 takes off from Buckley Air Force to take place in flight exercises.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Aurora Sentinel

Flyover to honor healthcare workers begins at Buckley Wednesday afternoon

AURORA | The Colorado skies will be filled Wednesday afternoon with another tribute to healthcare workers fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Colorado National Guard plans to fly F-16 Fighting Falcon planes over several Colorado cities and towns between 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. as part of Operation American Resolve, which is intended to honor those in the battle against the coronavirus.

The planes of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, will take off from Aurora’s Buckley Air Force Base and head east to Sterling, then redirect west to go over the Fort Collins area, head into the mountains as far as Aspen, then south down the I-25 corridor to Colorado Springs before making their return to Aurora. 

“We are really excited to show our appreciation for those men and women who are risking their lives every day in the front lines of the War on COVID-19,” U.S. Air Force Col. Micah Fesler, commander, 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, said in a press release. “So many of our community members, Coloradans, and fellow Americans have experienced overwhelming hardship as a result of this invisible enemy and we hope that the sound of freedom will inspire a sense of community and optimism.”

The planes are scheduled to reach Colorado Springs at approximately 5:33 p.m., then should be visible on the I-25 corridor on their way to Buckley.

On April 18, the Air Force Thunderbirds made a similar tribute run to healthcare workers in addition to performing a flyover for the graduation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.


Colorado Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons

AURORA | The COVID-19 infection rate at the Veteran’s Community Living Center at Fitzsimons in Aurora increased over the weekend, after the Colorado National Guard conducted a mass testing at the facility last week. 

Three residents at the facility, run by the Colorado Department of Human Services, have died. In total, nine staff members and 23 residents tested positive. 

That was up from 16 residents and two staff members before the National Guard testing. 

“Our thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones to this virus, as well as our residents and staff who are fighting this virus, and we hope all experience quick recoveries,” human services executive director Michelle Barnes said in a statement. “In times like these, we are thankful for our staff and team that continue to show up every day and provide the best care to our residents.”

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

A lone shopper wears a face mask while following the lines to direct the flow of traffic through The Emporium as retail stores reopened to customers in Douglas County Friday, May 1, 2020, in Castle Rock, Colo., after restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus were rolled back (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AURORA | Arapahoe County residents wondering how and when they may be able to access certain services will have a chance to have their questions answered this Thursday during a telephone town hall.

County officials will take questions from residents at 7 p.m. May 7. Participants seeking to attend are instructed to call 855-436-3656, watch the event live on Facebook, or utilize the stream on the county website.

Aurora’s two most populous counties, Arapahoe and Adams, are slated to ease into more relaxed distancing restrictions, known as the so-called “safer at home” phase of Gov. Jared Polis’ longterm plan to combat the spread of COVID-19, at midnight May 8. Douglas County entered into the new stage late last month, citing reduced case numbers. The decision to splinter from directives given by the Tri-County Health Department spurred a kerfuffle among Aurora politicos last month.

There have been nearly 5,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the three-county area the Tri-County Health Department oversees, according to the most recent statistics. More than 2,000 of those cases fall within Aurora’s municipal boundaries.

— QUINCY SNOWDON, Staff Writer


This undated photo shows Nanking cherries. (Lee Reich via AP)

No bull, CALF seeds raise cash for online order and a local pick-up

AURORA | The Colorado Agricultural Leadership Foundation (aka CALF) has a wide variety of seeds for vegetables, herbs and flowers available for a Mother’s Day gift or just to dig into spring.

Thousands of seeds — including a huge offering of tomato plants — ranging in price from $4 to $10 are available for purchase online at www.thecalf.org. Orders must be received by noon on May 8 to be ready for pickup the next day at the organization’s Lowell Ranch location: 2330 I-25 in Castle Rock.

Proceeds support a variety of non-profit businesses.

CALF’s mission is to connect people of all ages to agriculture in a variety of ways.



(AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)

For Cinco de Mayo, city boosters to celebrate online 

AURORA | Aurora officials aren’t letting a pandemic get in the way of annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations. 

Mayor Mike Coffman, Ward I City Councilwoman Crystal Murillo and other Aurora boosters will be streaming on Facebook Live Tuesday to celebrate Mexican, Latinx and Mexican-American culture. 

City spokeswoman Alicia Santos encouraged Aurorans to get online and visit www.facebook.com/AuroraGov at noon Tuesday to join the stream, celebrate culture and also stay informed on the 2020 Census. 

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican Army’s temporary defeat of French imperial forces on May 5, 1862. 

Many Americans not of Mexican heritage celebrate the day each year, in part thanks to campaigns from beer and wine companies to honor the imperial defeat with drinking. 

Almost one-third of Aurora’s near 380,000 residents identified as Hispanic or Latino last year, according to City estimates. 

  • GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer


A temporarily closed sign hangs to the entrance of the Town Center at Aurora, March 24, 2020. Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Aurora mall launching curated online shopping experience 

The Town Center at Aurora is still shuttered, but Aurorans still pining for scented candles and waffle makers can now shop online for these and other items normally found in mall storefronts. 

Mall owner Washington Prime debuted a curated online shopping experience last week to provide “an outlet for retail therapy and supporting businesses in the age of social distancing,” according to a mall press release. 

Mall manager Don Massey has hand-picked a list of Aurora mall items. 

As of Monday, the products included a sombrero, medical socks,  a Herschel-brand duffle bag, a Disney Mickey Mouse-shaped waffle maker and a “summery scented candle” from Bath & Body Works. Each week, the list will change. 

Peruse and buy online at https://towncenterataurora.com/well-picked-goods



Stanley Beer Hall

AURORA | Through May, Stanley Beer Hall is doling up 1,000 meals a day for Aurorans needing food as part of a metro-wide program to donate food and employ out-of-work restaurant hands. 

The Stanley Marketplace haunt said Wednesday 13 of its employees are back in business, working with four employees of Aurora-based  CME Catering. Since April 23, the team has doled out 1,000 meals a day which are then distributed by Aurora mainstay organizations including the African Leadership Group, Colorado Muslims Community Center, Dayton Street Opportunity Center and Friends of St. Andrew. 

It’s a collaboration born of the Colorado Restaurant Response. In March, when restaurants shuttered or switched to pick-up orders only, food service workers became some of the first with reduced hours or no work at all. The Response network launched shortly after to employ restaurant staffers to prepare food donations. 

According to a Wednesday press release, four Denver restaurants working in the organization are serving up 2,000 meals a day for distribution. 

Aurora-area food banks were struggling in mid-April with volunteer shortages, but food supplies were still in abundance, organizations told the Sentinel. 

Stanley Beer Hall is currently closed for regular food services because of the pandemic, according to a message on its voicemail. Other Stanley businesses are open for curbside pick-up. Learn more at http://stanleymarketplace.com/stanley-to-go-curbside-pickup-delivery-program/ 


Signs taped to a classroom door at Gateway High School in Aurora give instructions. Schools are closed because of the pandemic crisis at least through most of April. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Scott Siegfried sent home a letter to district parents April 27 that addressed the timeline of the remainder of the school year, when students can retrieve personal items, and floating the possibility of ‘in-person’ graduation ceremonies.

The district will continue through the end of the school year with remote learning and all district school buildings and facilities will remain closed through June 30 according to Siegfried.

The last day of the school year for seniors in high school is May 8, while all other students in the district will conclude on May 19. A two-week checkout process will allow students to return to buildings briefly — and observing social distancing — to collect items left behind in lockers and to return things that must be returned (seniors, May 11; elementary school May 13-14; middle school May 15, 18-19; preschool May 18-19; high school grades 9-11 May 20-22).

CCSD currently has plans for a “limited, in-person” graduation ceremony, which is tentatively set for the end of July with more details to come. The district said such a gathering would be fully dependent on health department approval and with strict adherence to social distancing mandates.

Siegfried closed his note saying: “I also want to express my deep gratitude to all of our teachers and staff, as well as parents and students for rising to this occasion and exhibiting grace and positivity during this ongoing crisis.”

— COURTNEY OAKES, Staff Writer

Regis Jesuit High School

AURORA | Regis Jesuit High School notified parents on Friday that the remainder of the school year will be held online.

On April 3, Aurora’s two largest school districts — Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek Schools — were among 14 metro area public school districts to form a joint agreement to close buildings and cancel activities and turn to remote instruction to finish the school year.

Regis Jesuit, a private school, waited longer to make a determination. The school went to online learning March 23 after it returned from its scheduled spring break, but it wasn’t until last week that the possibilities of safely returning to campus for what amounted to the final two weeks of the year became impossible.

“Despite how desperately we desire to gather together again, our best opportunity today to ensure the safety of our community and continuity of learning for our students is to complete the school year online,” the school’s statement to parents read.

The school said its nurses stayed in contact with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to ascertain what would be necessary for students to return to campus, but couldn’t find a way to ensure that even an “extraordinary commitment of resources, both human and financial” would make it safely and logistically possible.

Students may be allowed to return to campus to recover belongings in the coming weeks.

Online learning for Regis Jesuit continues through May 8 for seniors and for May 15 for juniors, sophomores and freshmen. Prom (May 18) and graduation (May 30) have not been canceled yet and the school will make an announcement on both by May 4.

The Colorado High School Activities Association has suspended the spring prep sports season until April 30 at least, so Regis Jesuit is waiting for “further guidance” on that front.


Fund launched for black women-owned businesses

A Denver racial justice organization advocating for black women has launched a donation fund for businesses in Aurora and beyond owned by black women, and is calling for support. 

The fund, called “Support Black Womxn Owned Businesses,” was started by Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a group of activists focused on faith, reproductive rights, ending racism and voting. Visit the fund website here.

The growing list of businesses includes Konjo Ethiopian Food, in Aurora near the intersection of South Peoria Street and East Dartmouth Avenue, Remembrance Wellness and Yoga in Denver and Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism, an activist group regularly working with Aurora Public Schools students. 

“Join Soul 2 Soul Sisters in supporting hard-working moms, inspiring entrepreneurs, and lady bosses who inspire our communities and make the world go ‘round,” the fund website reads. “Please donate today to support Black Womxn-owned businesses! 100 percent of your donation will go toward assisting local Black Womxn-owned businesses.”

The website says 100 percent of donations will go donors’ business of choice.

— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer


National Guard converting Denver convention center to emergency medical wing 

DENVER | About 50 Colorado National Guard soldiers are now helping convert the Colorado Convention Center into a 2000-bed medical shelter.

Gov. Jared Polis had already mobilized about National Guard soldiers, including soldiers from Aurora’s Buckley Air Force Base, to help cull the novel coronavirus pandemic among Denver’s homeless population.

Now, soldiers are assisting the State Emergency Operations Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convert the Denver convention center into a medical shelter, according to a National Guard news release. The space would be used if Denver runs out of hospital beds. 

Polis said last week he hoped the converted space wouldn’t be necessary, and state health officials said hospitals are so far within their capacities to treat sick patients, KDVR reported. 

The National Guard is also helping convert The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland. 

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general and 54th U.S. Army chief of engineers, is overseeing the transitions. He’s being transported between the two sites by Black Hawk helicopter, according to the news release. 

Colorado’s homeless population is considered especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus and its effects because of challenges to social distancing and pre-existing health conditions. 

— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer

Aurora Congressman Jason Crow, D-Colorado, answers a question from the audience during a Feb. 24, 2020 town hall meeting at Aurora Central High School. PHOTO BY PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

Congressman Jason Crow to host fourth town hall 

AURORA | Once again Aurora Congressman Jason Crow is hosting a town hall related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The town hall begins at 6:30 p.m. Constituents can call into the town hall by dialing 855-286-0296 or visiting https://crow.house.gov/live

Local State Senator Jeff Bridges and state Reps. Meg Froelich and Tom Sullivan will also be on the call with Dr. John Douglas of Tri-County Health Department.

 This is Crow’s fourth town hall regarding the pandemic.

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer

Colorado National Guard medical personnel perform coronavirus test on a motorist at a drive-thru testing site outside the Denver Coliseum Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Denver. Officials planned to administer 150 tests but the line of vehicles wrapped around three city blocks. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AURORA | An Aurora hotel is the latest to offer free and discounted services to area first responders and healthcare staffers. 

Police officers, fire fighters and healthcare workers can now stay for free or cheap at the Aurora-Parker Fairfield Inn & Suites, a Marriott brand hotel managed by Hawkeye Hotels. The hotel management chain, owning hotels across the U.S., is slashing room costs in other cities as well and aims to become a resource hub for organizations in need of space. 

“Of the many brave men and women fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines, some have voiced the need for additional accommodations or alternative places to stay,” Hawkeye Hotels spokeswoman Allison Ordman said in a press release. 

Ordman urged organizations in need of rooms to contact Hawkeye’s team at [email protected] 

Elsewhere, Hilton hotels pledged to donate 1 million rooms nationwide for healthcare personnel unable to go home for fear of infecting their loved ones. Nurses, EMTs, paramedics and doctors are eligible. Marriott hotels is also pledging to donate $10 million worth of hotel stays to frontline doctors and nurses.

— GRANT STRINGER, Staff Writer