School COVID outbreaks are 9 times what they were last year

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s 2021-22 school year is seeing more COVID outbreaks and more infectious outbreaks than this time last year.

In the 2020 school year, many Colorado school districts had remote and hybrid learning options. As case rates rose in the fall, more and more schools moved away from in-person learning. All in-person classroom settings were highly controlled with mask mandates, social distancing protocols and other COVID control measures.

In the 2021-22 school year, remote options are allowed but most districts have reentered the classroom. They vary in their COVID control measures from district to district.

School outbreaks outnumber the totals from assisted and skilled nursing care facilities combined.

The number of school outbreaks the state has seen during August and September is nine times the number from those months last year.

There were 21 school outbreaks in August and September last year, or about 8% of the total number of outbreaks in that time frame.

This year, there have been 188 school outbreaks during those two months – about 35% of the outbreaks in that time and the single largest COVID outbreak source in the state.

Outbreaks aren’t just growing in number, but in their infectiousness as well.

In August and September last year, outbreaks infected an average 4.7 people in K-12 schools. This fall, the average COVID outbreak in schools infects 14.6 people – more than three times as many people.

These outbreaks are concentrated mainly in heavily populated Front Range and Western slope counties.

El Paso County, however, leads the state.

Since Aug. 1, El Paso has had 88 school outbreaks – more than twice the number of Denver County.

Next comes Arapahoe County with 56, Douglas County with 39, Jefferson County with 37, and Larimer County with 22.

Outbreaks tend to have higher numbers in elementary schools, but it is unclear if this reflects on vaccination patterns or school composition.

Only about one-quarter of outbreaks have taken place in high schools. This may reflect that vaccines are available to the 12- to 17-year-old age group or that only one-quarter of Colorado’s schools are high schools.

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