EL PASO COUNTY — On August 20, The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) updated their school guidance on August 20 to clarify that under state statute, single cases are required to be reported to Public Health. El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) has updated the local school guidance to align with CDPHE.
The guidance notes that face coverings are still required on public transportation, including school buses, for anyone over 2 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In regard to requiring masks in classrooms, masks are no longer required in schools or child care facilities. It is only recommended as a best practice that anyone not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated wear a mask.
For reference, only children 12 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine under emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.
News5 spoke with a local pediatrician, Dr. Adam Robinson, who said the mask recommendation is an appropriate step to take. "We anticipate a rise in our numbers. The easiest example is that coronaviruses, as long as we've known them, have been a fall and winter disease. And so, there's a seasonality that we expect to see more cases in the fall and winter... Striking a balance between keeping each other safe, and ourselves physically safe by wearing a mask, but also remembering that's just one layer of the prevention effort, and there's a lot of other things we can do. Keeping kids in school is a big part of their wellness," said Dr. Robinson.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) still requires schools and child care facilities to report a confirmed or suspected case within 24 hours, just as required for other infectious diseases.
Isolation or quarantine of people with suspected or confirmed cases will also remain the same as the 2020-2021 school year, per CDPHE.
News5 reached out to several different Southern Colorado school districts, and received the following responses as of Wednesday:
Colorado Springs School District 11:
CLICK HERE to see District 11's Return to Learn updates. This may change dependent on the ever-changing health guidance from CDPHE, EPCPH and other local, state, and federal guidance.
Falcon School District 49:
Mask-wearing is not required on any campuses. School District 49 said they know some will still feel comfortable wearing masks at school, and respect the personal preference to do so.
Harrison School District 2:
Harrison School District 2 will require masks on the school bus per federal mandate. Masks are not required in buildings, but recommended for anyone not fully vaccinated.
Widefield School District 3:
There are no changes from what was sent to parents two weeks ago. Masks are recommended for staff and students, but not required. Things could change so the district asks people to remain flexible.
Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8:
For the schools located in Fountain, masks are recommended but not required. All buildings in the school district will have masks available and are mask-friendly environments for all who prefer to wear one.
District Spokesperson Christy McGee told News5 there is a Department of Defense issued requirement that masks be worn by all people in federal buildings, which impacts five of their schools on Ft. Carson. So, those five schools will be required to wear masks.
CLICK HERE for the district's Return to Learn webpage.
Pueblo County School District 70:
For students ages 11 and under: in alignment with local and state guidance, face coverings will be strongly encouraged while learning indoors, but will not be required at this time.
For students ages 12 and over: in alignment with local and state guidance, face coverings will be strongly encouraged for anyone who is 12+ years and not fully vaccinated but will not be required at this time.
Due to Federal Law (CDC 42 U.S.C. 264) masks will be required to ride First Student transportation.
School District 70 said they honor and respect the decision of parents when it comes to their children wearing or not wearing a face covering in school. Behavior such as “mask bullying” or “mask shaming” will not be tolerated.
Pueblo School District 60:
Pueblo School District 60 has not announced plans just yet, but expects that to be released within the next day or two.
News5 has compiled links to all the school districts in southeastern Colorado so parents can find out district plans amid concerns about COVID-19. We're covering this issue as part of The Rebound Colorado as our communities find safe ways to get life back to normal while keeping everyone's health in mind.
Find your district's most recent COVID-19 plans for Fall 2021
If you have additional information, questions, or comments about this list, please reach out to us via email - email@example.com.