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Unvaccinated staff at Aurora Public Schools must wear masks; unvaccinated students exempt

APS released updated health guidance for the 2021-2022 school year Friday.

AURORA, Colo. — Aurora Public Schools (APS) has released updated health guidance for the 2021-2022 school year that requires unvaccinated staff to wear masks and strongly recommends them for unvaccinated students.

The message from Superintendent Rico Munn shared on the district's website Friday says all staff who are vaccinated will not be required to wear masks at schools and district sites. 

The mask mandate for unvaccinated staff will take effect on Aug. 2, according to APS.

All students and staff will be required to wear masks on school buses whether they're vaccinated or not, APS said, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) order requiring face masks on public transportation.

Remaining in place under the new guidance is the district's requirement for all APS staff to be vaccinated once a COVID-19 vaccine is given full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Currently, the three vaccines available in the U.S. have been granted emergency use authorization.

APS said it strongly encourages all eligible students, so those age 12 and up, to get vaccinated. So far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for children 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are only available to at least 18 years old.

APS said it is taking a "layered" approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19, which calls for the implementation of several mitigation measures.

The district's approach includes daily screening of students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms and the isolation of any positive student or staff member for 10 days. 

APS will no longer require those who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is showing symptoms to be quarantined. School nurses will work with families on best practices, the district said, and provide guidance if a family member tests positive.

RELATED: Colorado school districts will likely make their own mask policies this year

APS will no longer notify staff and families about positive and/or symptomatic cases through calls and emails, the district said, instead posting that information on their COVID-19 tracker.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) this week issued its guidance for schools to implement their own COVID-19 protocols, which recommends that communities with higher transmission and low vaccination rates take heightened precautions such as mask-wearing, social distancing and regular testing.

RELATED: All students should wear masks in school this fall, top pediatrics group says

Other metro-area school districts, including Denver Public Schools, JeffCo Schools, and Boulder Valley School District, said they are still working on their safety protocols this week.