DENVER — With schools set to reopen in just a matter of weeks, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released guidance Thursday for detecting, reporting and responding to cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools.
The department outlined specific steps schools should take in response to cases and outbreaks and outlines when classrooms, cohorts and schools should close.
Schools are required to report all suspected and confirmed outbreaks to their local public health agency or CDPHE within four hours. Clinical labs and health care providers report cases to public health; however, schools also are encouraged to report single cases of COVID-19 to their local public health agency.
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An outbreak is defined as two or more people from different households testing positive for the virus.
Prior to an outbreak, schoolwide testing is not recommended, however preventive measures such as mask-wearing, social distancing and cohorting should be utilized.
A classroom or cohort should be closed if there is a single confirmed or probable infection in the cohort because all members of the class or cohort should quarantine for 14 days, CDPHE said.
A school should be closed 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 subjective and is determined by the school/district.
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