Headlines October 27, 2021
Report Released Showing Toxic Contaminant at Greeley Middle School
A new report was released this week showing that there have been numerous detections of elevated levels of cancer-causing benzene at a school site in Greeley. The nonprofit organization 350 Colorado said in a release that air quality monitoring at the Bella Romero Academy middle school showed the air contamination during more than 230 eight-hour time periods. The readings included after-school hours when children played on Bella Romero’s grounds.
In 2020, the organization says the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment placed air monitors to detect toxic emissions from where fracking was being done by Extraction Oil and Gas-less than 700 feet from the school playground. However, the monitors were removed in March this year. Now, 350 Colorado and Patricia Nelson, the mother of a child at the school, have delivered a letter to Governor Jared Polis and the director of CDPHE demanding that the monitoring be resumed. 350 Colorado says that Nelson was joined yesterday by dozens of supporters on the steps of the State Capitol protesting the lack of action to protect communities from fracking operations.
Equitable Distribution Urged as Vaccinations Authorized for Children
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The state health department said that it’s estimated that the first shipments of the vaccine will arrive in Colorado on Monday or Tuesday of next week. The Denver Post reports that details of how the state will get the shots into the arms of children–such as who will administer them and where clinics will be set up–have not been released.
The Colorado Vaccine Equity Taskforce is urging the Polis administration and CDPHE to ensure an equitable rollout of the vaccines for children. The organization says in a release that Colorado, like many other states, has faced challenges, to deliver them to communities of color which are more likely to suffer the worst impact of the coronavirus. The organization says in a release that vaccination rates in communities of color lag behind those of White areas and recent data shows a significant drop in routine vaccination rates for things like measles.
Judge Halts Douglas County Authorization for Parents to Exempt Children from Masking
Students and staff in the Douglas County School District will have to go back to wearing masks to protect from COVID-19. A federal judge ruled yesterday that an exemption that had been issued by the county’s new health department violated the rights of students with disabilities. Judge John Kane issued a temporary restraining order saying that the risk of harm to those protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, denies reasonable accommodations that are backed by science based masking requirements.
The Denver Post reports that some students with existing medical exemptions will still be allowed to go without masks, but parents will not be permitted to opt out of exemptions. The ruling comes after the Douglas Public School District sued the county, which had allowed parents to choose not to make children wear masks if they felt that it was doing more harm than good. The order will stay in place until November 8, when a hearing will be held to determine whether it should be continued.
Scholarships for Descendants of Native American Boarding Schools
It was announced yesterday that scholarships, for descendants of those who attended Native American boarding schools, have been awarded for the next academic year. A coalition of the American Indian College Fund and the National Native America Boarding Schools have joined forces to provide twenty scholarships of $3,000.
A release from the organizations says that the awards are designed to acknowledge the experiences of survivors of the boarding schools and allow the families to heal. The head of the coalition said that they know the impacts of Indian boarding schools are inter-generational and have played a profound role in the educational disparities students experience today. She added that the scholarships are a first step in restoring what was taken from Native Americans through the boarding schools.
Boulder County to Receive Funds to Restore Public Transit Routes
Boulder County is set to receive almost $35 million dollars under an agreement with the Regional Transportation District. The arrangement will now be sent to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The money will come to the county from pandemic relief funding instead of going to RTD. The district was in a dispute with CDOT over suspended commuter bus routes.
The Denver Post reports that the agreement will spur discussion among Boulder County communities and RTD about restoring routes known as the Flatiron Flyer to downtown Denver including those from Longmont. A spokesperson for the county said that the intent of the agreement was to address underserved transit needs. Recently officials of Boulder County have protested the lack of service on commuter corridors. The state department of transportation will likely need to get approval from the federal government to divert the money from RTD to the county.