COLORADO, USA — A new report released Wednesday by state health officials recommends that schools "eliminate or greatly restrict" extracurricular activities and prioritize learning for specific groups based on need as they work to determine how to move forward with the rising COVID-19 trends.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released the report as part of an effort to help schools determine their best course of action as cases and hospitalizations rise.
In general, according to the report, schools have been able to mitigate the disease by implementing school guidance. Strategies such as cohorting, mask wearing, and disease investigation seem to be working to prevent school outbreaks, the report says.
Students in grades K-8 are at a lower risk for in-school transmission than high school students, state data shows.
CDPHE recommends that school districts do the following:
Prioritize in-person learning for specific populations based on need and risk.
Eliminate or greatly restrict extracurricular activities.
Implement additional protective measures in school.
The state recommended that younger students, who are least likely to engage in "meaningful" remote learning without close supervision should be prioritized.
Students receiving special education services, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, and those who require higher levels of caregiver supervision should also be prioritized for in-person instruction, the report says.
In recommending that extracurricular activities be eliminated, CDPHE said that even if conducted with optimal risk-reduction measures in place, they prevent another avenue for COVID-19 transmission.
CDPHE also said in the report that "large outbreaks" associated with sports teams resulted in the suspension of in-person learning for entire school districts in the state.
Health officials said they recognize the activities have value for the participants but said they "should not be prioritized at the expense of in-person learning."
CDPHE's guidance also stresses the need for schools to evaluate their ability to support the emotional and mental health of the school community, and develop tools and protocols (such as regular outreach to students and families, peer mentorship, individual learning plans, goal setting, and outreach for identified concerns) to support their community.
Those additional considerations are especially critical if school districts decide to move to remote learning.
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