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Colorado health officials release back-to-school guidance for COVID-19

Kids with masks in a Colorado school.
Kids with masks in a Colorado school.(KKTV/Ashley Franco)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:27 PM MDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 8:26 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - Weeks before school is back in session state health officials in Colorado released back-to-school guidance.

Members of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment plan to adopt and “clarify” guidance recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Click here to read the new P-12 school guidelines in Colorado for the upcoming school year. Click here for the guidance from the CDC.

“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,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

The guidance does not constitute statewide requirements, but rather provides best practices for local governments and schools.

11 News reached out to multiple school districts in the Pikes Peak region on Tuesday trying to get an update on their back-to-school guidance. All of the districts said they were waiting for state health officials to provide their recommendations. School districts are expected to make their own decisions. Parents and staff members are encouraged to follow their own districts websites for updates.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE CDC GUIDANCE AS OF JULY 9:

  • Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall 2021 is a priority.
  • Vaccination is currently the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
  • Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together consistently) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated, including students, teachers, staff, and other members of their households.
  • COVID-19 prevention strategies remain critical to protect people, including students, teachers, and staff, who are not fully vaccinated, especially in areas of moderate-to-high community transmission levels.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).

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