DENVER (KDVR) — As Colorado students head back to school, parents will notice big changes to the quarantine guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
If a school district meets certain vaccination requirements, or other requirements, a student exposed to COVID in a routine classroom setting will be handled differently.
“The children that were exposed in that classroom will not be required to quarantine, whereas they were required to quarantine in that routine classroom setting last year,” said Jennifer Chase, the epidemiologist and disease control branch director for the COVID-19 response at Tri-County Health Department.
Tri-County Health includes Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties and it is mirroring state guidance.
“It’s a very big change,” Chase said.
Quarantines were disruptive
She said repeated quarantines were disruptive to learning last year, and this is part of the focus in the return to in-person learning.
“It’s a very difficult compromise, and we are trying to focus on keeping kids in school this year,” Chase said.
Douglas County parents like Michael Deaquino have mixed feelings about the change.
“Even though it was disruptive last year, there is a feeling of safety,” he said.
Tri-County Health is hearing from family both for and against the change, but Chase said there are other measures still in place.
Masks are highly recommended. Schools will continue to send exposure notifications, and people exposed will need to monitor for symptoms.
A person who tests positive will still have to isolate for 10 days, and people who are sick are told to stay home.
Some quarantining will still happen
Plus, there are certain situations that still require quarantine. For example, if an unvaccinated student is participating in a sport or activity that is deemed higher risk without a mask like wrestling, football, basketball, choir or band, and they become exposed, they may need to quarantine.
“We would require that kids be quarantined in those settings because they are much more likely to have been exposed and much more likely to develop the disease,” Chase said.
Students who are fully vaccinated or have been infected in the last 90 days would not need to quarantine.
Chase said if there is an outbreak or a change in the case numbers or variants, this guidance could change.