Colorado officials release new COVID-19 guidelines for schools
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released new coronavirus guidelines for pre-K through 12th grade schools. The guidelines will be effective Aug. 1 and are based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“We want to make sure that schools remain a safe place, and this plan outlines ways to reduce potential transmission of COVID-19 in the school setting, while facilitating in-person learning,” wrote Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the executive director of CDPHE in a Tuesday press release.
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The guidelines allow fully vaccinated students and faculty to opt out of mask-wearing, and fully vaccinated people will not be required to quarantine if exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. However, fully vaccinated students and staff exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to monitor themselves for symptoms and get tested if they develop any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
The press release reiterated that these guidelines are not statewide requirements but instead provide an outline for schools and local governments to “manage the next stage of the pandemic.”
The state recommends that school districts and local public health agencies consider implementing a mask policy for students and staff over the age of 2 who are not fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated students and staff over the age of 2 are encouraged to wear a mask even if their school district does not require it. Vaccines are not yet available for children under 12.
According to the CDC, a person is defined as fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second shot of a two-dose series, such as the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Colorado’s guidelines maintain that vaccination against COVID-19 is currently the best way to end the pandemic. The guidelines encourage school districts to implement vaccine outreach programs, targeted quarantine, and other precautions in higher risk settings, such as indoor sports or orchestras.
According to the updated guidelines, Colorado has reached a 70% vaccination rate among adults 18 and over.
The guidelines recommend that school districts encourage families and staff to be tested for COVID-19 prior to traveling and to monitor for symptoms after returning to school.
In-person learning is encouraged whenever possible, even if it is not possible to follow social distancing guidelines.
These guidelines are applicable to “all circumstances” where a teacher cares for multiple children outside of the children’s home. The guidelines mention licensed child care settings, “‘pods’ and other home learning and homeschool groups,” license-exempt child care programs such as three-day camps, and child care facilities at places such as courthouses and ski resorts as some circumstances where the guidelines apply.
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