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CDPHE releases guidance on how schools should handle COVID-19 outbreaks

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 30, 2020

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released guidance Thursday detailing how schools should handle COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in the coming school year.

The materials provide steps schools should take to detect, report, and respond to cases and outbreaks of the coronavirus, including when classrooms, cohorts, and schools should close.

Under the guidelines, schools will be required to report all suspected and confirmed cases to local public health agencies or to CDPHE within four hours.

The guidance also says students, teachers, or staff who test positive or are suspected to have COVID-19 should isolate until released, usually 10 days after symptoms begin, 24 or more hours fever free, and with improving symptoms.

Those with symptoms should get tested, and close contacts should isolate for 14 days. That means a classroom or cohort should close if there is a single confirmed or probable infection.

Schools should close when:

  • Five or more class/cohort outbreaks happen in a 14-day period
  • 5% or more unrelated students/teachers/staff have confirmed COVID-19 within a 14-day period (minimum of 10 unrelated students/staff)
  • Additional time is needed to clean the school before students/teachers/staff return or gather student/teachers/staff illness data and confer with public health
  • A school cannot operate because a large number of students/teachers/staff are absent. “Large number” is determined by the school/district

CDPHE guidelines, along with Colorado Department of Education's guidelines for reopening and the 2020-2021 toolkit are meant to give districts the guidance they need to start the school year.

CDPHE said it will update guidance as needed.