DENVER (KDVR) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued new guidance for schools as they prepare for learning to resume this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the guidance, a classroom or cohort should be closed for 14 days when there is a single student, teacher or other staff member with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
Additionally, an entire school should be closed for 14 days when there are five or more classroom/cohort outbreaks or five percent of unrelated students/teachers/staff members have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
CDPHE identified an outbreak as when two or more unrelated people in a single classroom or cohort have confirmed cases of COVID-19 with the onset within 14 days.
The guidance goes on to define the differences between probable and confirmed cases, as well as detail what constitutes an outbreak in different situations and what conditions to which the siblings of sick students should be subject.
Educators say the guidelines are a step in the right direction, but that plenty of questions remain.
“There’s just still so many unknowns about the logistics,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association. She says she remains concerned about how teachers will handle the uncertainty of the situation.
“If it’s just even one person in the classroom, and that would send them into 14 days of quarantine, there need to be really clear plans that are clearly articulated prior to that,” she says. “What would it mean to suddenly go into remote learning and then come back?”
Despite the questions, Baca-Oehlert is glad to see the state releasing recommendations this far in advance.
“This guidance that came out today certainly provides more clarity and more specificity around what should happen when there’s an outbreak,” she says.