School & Child Care Recommendations
Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) strongly recommends all K-12 schools and Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs follow Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s (CDPHE) school guidance. Additionally, in order to preserve in-person learning, BCPH will continue to provide guidance and support to schools about outbreak mitigation strategies and reporting. BCPH and CDPHE support a transition to align the response to COVID-19 cases to other infectious diseases that occur in schools.
Schools are encouraged to continue a layered mitigation strategy to control the transmission of all communicable diseases amongst staff and students. Schools are advised to encourage vaccination to all members of their school community, encourage testing for COVID-19 and other illnesses, and encourage parents and staff to follow the “How Sick is Too Sick” guidance for exclusion when a student or staff is ill. Isolation of students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 is still necessary to reduce the spread of illness to others.
Schools are advised to follow the CDPHE Infectious disease guidelines for schools and child care settings, which include guidance for COVID-19 as well as for other reportable conditions and outbreaks as well as any additional guidance for their particular school, especially if their school serves students with increased health risks. Within the guidelines are infection prevention practices that are part of the broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in school settings. The guidelines include information and recommendations about cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette.
Masks are still advised as a way to reduce the risks for transmission of COVID-19 as well as for any respiratory illness. Mask use is strongly recommended for anyone who may be at higher risk for severe respiratory disease and are encouraged for anyone who wants to reduce their risks for infection. The Colorado Department of Education does still distribute masks at no cost to any Colorado school who wishes to apply to the Masks for Colorado Program.
Schools are also advised to increase their ventilation as much as possible to decrease the incidence of all respiratory illnesses. Ventilation is an important prevention tool and the CDC provides recommendations and resources to optimize ventilation in school settings.
Ongoing Disease Control Activities
Colorado regulation 6 CCR 1009-1 Rules and Regulations pertaining to Epidemic and Communicable Disease Control requires schools and childcare facilities to report to public health reportable diseases, conditions, and related events, including COVID-19. State law also requires schools and child care facilities to cooperate with BCPH in timely reporting, communication, and sharing of records related to the investigation and disease control activities of COVID-19.
Routine Reporting of Increases in Respiratory Illnesses
As was required prior to COVID-19, if a facility observes an increase in rates of respiratory illnesses or detects an outbreak of COVID-19 in a class or cohort, facilities are required to report to BCPH as soon as possible. BCPH will work with the facility to determine if additional mitigation measures such as masking, or testing may be required to contain transmission. In lieu of school-based individual case investigation and contact tracing, facilities may implement new cluster or outbreak detection strategies. An example of this is reporting school absenteeism data to BCPH.
Schools may communicate to BCPH any outbreaks, concerns, or questions by emailing COVID19Epiline@bouldercounty.org. This email is only to be used for reporting purposes and may also be used for non-COVID-19 illnesses. General questions can be directed to the Boulder County Call Center at email@example.com. Emergency notifications about reportable illnesses that require immediate assistance can be made by calling the BCPH Communicable Disease phone number at 303-413-7523 or by using the disease reporting form found on the BCPH website.
BCPH will continue to provide guidance, answer questions, and facilitate the process of reporting outbreaks for schools.