This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
After Colorado teachers and child care workers are fully vaccinated, they will no longer have to quarantine after exposure to COVID, Gov. Jared Polis and State Epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said Tuesday.
It’s still not entirely clear when educators will be vaccinated on a large scale. The Denver Post reported Monday that Colorado National Guard Brig. Gen. Scott Sherman, who is heading up vaccine distribution, said teachers and child care workers would get priority ahead of other essential workers in the next phase of vaccination.
When that will be depends largely on supply from the federal government, Polis said, adding that he hopes to release more details later this week.
“We believe the continuity of education, of child care, is a linchpin of society,” Polis said. “We want to make sure that even if there is another spike, we can maintain in-person learning.”
Herlihy said the new quarantine policy will apply to people in low-risk settings who are two weeks past their second shot of the two-dose vaccines. Schools and child care centers are considered low risk. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are 94% to 95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID infection in people who have received both doses.
Not requiring vaccinated teachers to quarantine would have limited impact this school year, as most teachers won’t have full immunity until sometime in April and most Colorado schools end the academic year in May. Nonetheless, Polis said he expects the change to give school leaders more “operational flexibility” in a state where frequent disruptions from quarantines have sometimes led entire schools and districts to switch to remote learning.