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12 Denver-area superintendents call for CDPHE to end school quarantines

They said guidance around school quarantines needs to be eased to allow more students to have a more consistent schedule.

DENVER — With the school year coming to an end soon, 12 superintendents around Denver have sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHEurging the state to change guidance around school quarantines.

The letter states, “messaging from Colorado's public health and elected officials has acknowledged, since before the new year, that rates of COVID transmission within our schools are low; that the mitigation measures we have in place are working; and that in-person schooling is critically important for many students in their social, emotional, and academic development.”

The superintendents argued because of this, quarantines are no longer needed for students that don’t have a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms.

“Our most recent data compiled on April 23 shows that less than one half of one percent of students and staff placed into quarantine since January have subsequently tested positive for the virus -- and the rates are not increasing over the past month,” the letter says.

It also states that over “3,000 students per week have been completing quarantines over the past two weeks across the 13 districts currently participating in the COVID data reporting effort, and their COVID infection rate has been less than two tenths of one percent.”

According to Chris Gdowski, Superintendent of Adams 12 Five Star Schools, the quarantine guidelines that are in place right now include anyone that has been within six feet of a confirmed COVID-19 positive student or staff for 15 minutes or longer. They must quarantine between one and two weeks.

He, as well as the other superintendents, want that to be changed so that only COVID-19 positive or symptomatic students and staff must quarantine.

Gdowski said no changes to the guidance have been made in a while.

“Those standards haven't changed since mid-December,” Gdowski said. “Which is another piece of some frustration given that a lot has changed, including vaccination, since December.”

Meanwhile, CDPHE is concerned about the state reporting a rapid increase in cases among middle and high school students. But, Gdowski said that virus rates among students at his school have remained low.

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The letter also addresses the negative mental impact quarantines have on students, “The frequent school quarantines have caused constant disruption to classroom environments, stress for students preparing for end of year exams, and a lack of predictability and consistency in almost every facet of a student's school experience”

Gdowski also said that the ongoing quarantines have caused these issues in students.

“There's a lot of disappointment from our students that they feel like sometimes they have to make the safe choice to be remote, even though they feel like the quality of the experience and the education is less,” Gdowski said. “So there's stress, there's frustration, there's disappointment and there's sadness from our students. And just given how few infections we're avoiding by these quarantines, we really would like to end it so that our students can have some of that stress reduced and finished strong.”

The superintendents included in the letter are:

  • Chris Gdowski, Superintendent Adams 12 Five Star Schools
  • Douglas Bissonette, Superintendent Elizabeth School District
  • Charlotte Ciancio, Superintendent Mapleton School District
  • Tracy Dorland, Superintendent Jeffco Public Schools
  • Brian Ewert, Superintendent Littleton Public Schools
  • Chris Fiedler, Superintendent 27J Schools
  • Rico Munn, Superintendent, Aurora Public Schools
  • Wendy Rubin, Superintendent Englewood Schools
  • Mike Schmidt, Superintendent Platte Canyon School District
  • Scott Siegfried, Superintendent Cherry Creek School District
  • Pam Swanson, Superintendent Westminster Public Schools
  • Corey Wise, Superintendent Douglas County School District

CDPHE has not yet responded to the letter.

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