PCC and CSU-Pueblo transition to remote learning; prep and pro games come to a halt

As the state identified more positive cases of coronavirus Thursday, the Colorado High School Activities Association suspended spring sports and activities until early April to address concerns surrounding the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College are moving toward remote learning.

The CHSAA 2020 spring sports season — including all practices and competition — the state speech tournament, and student leadership's Advisor U are suspended through April 6. All music festivals also are canceled. The decision to continue practices and competition on Thursday was left up to local districts, and Pueblo's D60 and Pueblo County's D70 canceled them.

"I'd rather be on the fields with my boys," said Joe Vigil, head baseball coach at Pueblo Centennial High School. "We have to do what our bosses tell us.

"We've put in a ton of work leading up to this point and have a great group of kids. We will stay active, and the kids will be focused — so when it's go time, we roll."

Big changes after spring break

For Pueblo Community College, spring break is extended by one week and begins Monday, President Patty Erjavec announced.

"This extra week will allow us to transition most courses to remote learning, so we can minimize the number of people on campus and practice social distancing with courses that will still need to be held in person,” she said.

The college's new format starts March 30. Clinical rotations continue as scheduled Monday through March 20. Some courses like welding would not have a remote learning option. PCC deans would provide additional information to faculty and staff regarding these classes.

All students should receive specific instructions about their classes by March 27. Students and instructors who do not have home internet access would be able to use computers located at the library and Learning Center, which would remain open with normal business hours.

PCC administration is evaluating scheduled functions on a case-by-case basis, Erjavec said. Registration for summer and fall classes are still set to begin April 6.

Starting Monday through May 1, Colorado State University-Pueblo is suspending all face-to-face instruction as a first step to minimize social contact. All courses are moving to an online or distance format, President Timothy Mottet announced.

"Faculty who are ready to move online or to a distance model will do so immediately," he said. "During the week of March 16-20, other faculty will begin to immediately transition instruction into distance formats."

All instruction would resume fully online or in a remote format after spring break March 23-27.

Services, buildings and support systems would operate as normal until further notice.

Classes at Districts 60 and 70 continue to operate on their normal schedule.

Pueblo's D60 said it would post updates throughout the week focusing on measures taken at its schools at www.pueblocityschools.us and social media.

D70 in Pueblo County is suspending all extracurricular activities, including athletic practices, "parent teacher conferences, academic events, arts and drama events and performances, and any other club events that take place before or after school." Updates are available at www.district70.org.

The Pueblo City-County Library District is suspending all programs, events and meeting room use through April 15. All library locations would remain open and operating with normal business hours.

Community events canceled

Though the Pueblo Bulls were set to start playoffs this weekend, the Western States Hockey League canceled the rest of the season.

The Pueblo Classic, which has 279 registered racers, is set to continue this weekend — though it's likely to have a later start in the morning for the USA Cycling races, said Jim Castagneri of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference.

The popular Garage Ma-HAUL and Swap-Meet event set for Saturday at the Colorado State Fairgrounds was also canceled.

The decision was made based on the recommendation of health officials to avoid large gatherings of people, and the Garage Ma-HAUL draws hundreds — sometimes more than a thousand — bargain-hunters who shop the merchandise offered by vendors.

"It's such a great event for the community, but we want to do everything we can to make sure our citizens — as well as our employees who work at the Garage Ma-HAUL — are safe," said Lee Bachlet, publisher of The Pueblo Chieftain. "So, we have canceled this event and it has not been rescheduled. We do hope to be able to offer this event in the future."

The state’s lab identified 49 positive cases of coronavirus on Thursday afternoon. None of the new cases are near Pueblo, Otero or Bent counties; the closest patient still is in the Colorado Springs area.

Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency Tuesday — less than a week after Colorado reported its first cases.

Editor Steve Henson and sports reporter Austin White contributed to this story.

rlopez@chieftain.com

Twitter: @lopezricardojr