Headlines August 4, 2020

Headlines August 4, 2020

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The St. Vrain Valley School District today announced that it will now have fully online classes for the start of the school year for all students in the district until at least the end of September when they will reevaluate.

In an email to parents today the school district said they changed their re-opening plans after receiving additional information from Boulder County Public Health.

Boulder County Public Health says there has been a sustained upward trend in cases since around July 1.

First through 12th grade students will start school online on August 18 and kindergarten students start August 20.

The school district had previously planned for a hybrid learning model for the start of the year with students having in-person instruction every other day.

The Daily Camera reports that a school district staff member who worked in an in-person summer class for ninth-graders at Thunder Valley K-8 in Frederick developed symptoms of COVID-19. The employee is being tested, according to a letter sent to families and staff.

Metropolitan State University announced Monday that it will furlough some staff in an effort to make up a $14 million budget shortfall. The furloughs are budgeted to save the university $1.1 million.

The Denver Post reports that MSU is instituting mandatory, unpaid furlough days effective immediately for all staff and faculty who make more than $50,000 annually over the course of the next fiscal year that ends in June of 2021.

Denver city council on Monday voted 11-1 to put a climate change sales tax on the November ballot.

The ballot question asks for a sales tax of 2.5 cents on every $10 for most purchases. The money would fund infrastructure and incentives that would make Denver’s homes, buildings and streets more energy-efficient.

The Denverite reports that the Climate Action Task Force, a body appointed by Mayor Michael Hancock to map out the city’s climate change response, recommended the tax to council. They hope it will raise about $36 million a year.

Opponents of a statewide ballot measure that would ban late-term abortion in Colorado launched their campaign today.

Proposition 115, formerly Initiative 120, would ban abortion after 22 weeks of gestation except to save the life of the mother. It would suspend for 3 years the medical license of someone who performs such an abortion.

Dr. Kristina Tocce, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, says this ban would force her to deny patients crucial healthcare options.

“I can’t imagine being forced to withhold safe essential healthcare options from patients,” she said.

Dr. Warren Hern, founder of the Boulder Abortion Clinic, one of a handful of clinics in the country that provide late-term abortions, says Prop 115 would shut down his clinic which serves women not just from Colorado, but from around the country who travel here to receive treatment.

“In many cases, the women find that at a very late stage in pregnancy there is some catastrophic fetal abnormality or genetic disorder that cannot be detected earlier,” said Hern.

In recent years, voters in Colorado have rejected ballot measures that would restrict access to abortion.

 

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The group behind the citizen-led ballot initiative Bedrooms Are For People on Monday filed a lawsuit against the city of Boulder to get a place on the November ballot.

City officials gave the campaign incorrect information about filing and signature requirements and City Council members subsequently declined to refer the measure to the ballot.

The group “Bedrooms are for People” wants to reform Boulder’s strict housing occupancy limits that prohibit more than three unrelated people from living together in most parts of town.

The Daily Camera reports that the lawsuit was filed by  Co-Chairs Chelsea Castellano and Eric Budd asking a judge to compel city officials to certify the campaign’s petition and for City Council members to give it a title and direct it to be placed on the ballot.

The complaint also asks the court to declare the city’s effort to retroactively change deadlines and signature requirements for ballot initiatives invalid.

Vanessa Wilson has been named as Aurora’s new chief of police. The Sentinel reports that in a 10 to 1 vote on Monday night, city council approved Wilson to head up the department. She has been acting as interim police chief since the start of the year.

Wilson is the first woman to hold the position in Aurora.

The appointment of a new police chief comes as Aurora is facing increasing criticism in recent weeks for its handling of the protests which are demanding accountability for the death of Elijah McClain, a Black man who died at the hands of police last August.

Wilson’s appointment also came on the day that Aurora police apologized to a group of Black children who were detained and at least two handcuffed during a weekend investigation of a stolen car.

9News reports that the group of girls ranged in age from 6 to 17 years old.

A video shows the 17-year-old and 12-year-old lying on their stomachs with their hands cuffed behind their backs, and a 14-year-old girl lying next to the 6-year-old, also on their stomachs, in a parking lot next to the car. They can be heard crying and screaming as officers stand with their back to the camera.

The witness to the event, who shot the video, said on camera that the police drew guns as they initially approached the car.
Officers were investigating a vehicle theft but later determined that the vehicle they were seeking had the same license plate number but was from out of state.

New police chief Vanessa Wilson tweeted on Monday that “An internal investigation has been opened, and an examination of training and procedures is underway.”

Teachers in Denver rallied on Monday as part of a nationwide day of action with educators raising concerns about in-person teaching plans for the upcoming school year. CBS4 reports that teachers held a car parade through downtown Denver.

Cars held signs with messages like “Protect Students and Workers Lives” and “Teachers and Families United for a Safe Reopening.”

Rallies also took place in Chicago, Boston, New York and Milwaukee.

Chalkbeat Colorado reports that the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, said it would support protests, lawsuits and strikes over educator safety. Florida’s teachers union has sued the state’s governor and education commissioner over an order to reopen schools five days a week for in-person instruction.

Last Thursday Governor Jared Polis said he was confident that it is reasonably safe to reopen schools in the coming weeks.