This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
Colorado public health officials have revised their quarantine guidance for schools in ways that would send fewer children home and allow them to return to school more quickly — in situations where cold- or flu-like symptoms are unlikely to be COVID-19.
State public health officials said the new guidance, issued Wednesday, was developed through feedback from school district officials, teachers, school nurses, local public agencies, and clinicians. They said it was both more detailed and more nuanced than the original guidance issued July 30. While it’s ultimately not binding, they hope it provides some consistency across the state.
Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes told the State Board of Education that many superintendents raised concerns about the “challenges” of the original quarantine guidance, and the new guidance should be “more feasible” to implement.
“I can’t say it’s going to be easy because if there is a presumed case, superintendents will still have to take action,” she said.
If students or staff members have a positive test result or have major symptoms with a known exposure to someone with COVID, schools would still have to send home entire classrooms or cohorts of students. When there is evidence of broader spread, entire schools might have to close. That hasn’t changed.
But in cases where students or staff have mild symptoms that resolve within 24 hours and community transmission is low, the new guidance lays out ways to keep students in school. It also allows students and staff to return to school if they have a negative COVID test after being exposed.