ROSH HASHANAH EDITION 5781 SECTION A PAGE 7
Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Intermountain Jewish News had the opportunity to speak with Gov. Jared Polis and get his brief reflections on the status of COVID-19 in Colorado, remote learning and what spiritual lesson he’s learned from the pandemic. The following is an edited transcript.
IJN: Coronavirus numbers are going down. Hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. There is ICU capacity. How do you find the balance between reopening and concern that numbers don’t then spike?
JP: Shana Tova to you and your readers.
It’s a matter of individual responsibility. Everything is essentially open other than large events with tens of thousands of people, which no country has figured out how to do. [A week later Polis announced that Broncos’ games would be open to 5,700 fans.]
We were one of the first states to open up restaurants and salons. It’s about living our lives in a way that’s sustainable with all the things we treasure, but making sure we’re careful.
IJN: So you see us continuing in the direction of reopening?
JP: So far Colorado is doing well. We’re wearing masks. We’re reducing social interactions.
To put it in perspective, there are Coloradans who die every day from COVID-19, but we have plenty of hospital capacity. We have schools open, that includes universities, elementary schools.
IJN: You had your son with you at the signing for the Holocaust and Genocide Education bill on July 8. How did your family cope with closures and child care?
JP: I wanted my son to meet Fanny Starr and build that first-generation connection to the Holocaust, to renew the promise “never again.”
Like a lot of families during [this time] we had to balance work and family.
Our daughter, who is more social, was in a few summer camps. Our son was just as happy not being in summer camps. He occupied himself. We’d take a walk every day as a family. The kids are now back in school.
IJN: How concerned are you about children not receiving in-person education?
JP: More than half the schools are back in session, in Cherry Creek, for example and across the state. I think they’re doing a good job with safety protocols. The schools that are still teaching remotely will hopefully be open within a month or so.
In-person learning is so important for social emotional learning, for successful conflict resolution. Not everyone has the same resources. When it comes to technology. Or there are parents who can support their kids with remote learning, but for single parents, for example, it can be challenging.
IJN: Why have masks become such a point of contention?
JP: They work well in reducing the risk. We’re relieved that people wear masks in school. I wear a mask when I’m at work. My kids wear them in school.
They’re not 100% effective. But they reduce transmission. They’re an important tool and the most important tool that allows us to get back to normal sooner.
IJN: So you see them sticking around?
JP: We all look forward to a successful vaccination, but that is a few months away. Masks help keep the virus at bay.
IJN: What are you and your family doing to celebrate Rosh Hashanah? Did you have to adjust your plans because of the pandemic?
JP: Normally we go to temple. This year I’m not sure if it will be virtual, or if we’ll have a different plan. But we also celebrate at home, for example with apples and honey. We’ll focus on those safe socially distant ways of observing the new year.
IJN: What spiritual lesson have you learned from the pandemic?
JP: It’s a time when we all search for deeper meaning. It’s brought people closer together with their families, their spirituality. When times are tough people look deeper within. That’s true of all Coloradans and our family too.
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