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COVID Health & Safety Updates - 1.14.22

COVID Health & Safety Updates - 1.14.22
Posted on 01/14/2022

Today, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) published COVID-19 School Setting Guidance. This guidance reflects the County’s support for in-person learning. We are grateful for JCPH’s continued efforts to protect everyone in Jefferson County, especially our students, staff, and families from severe complications associated with COVID-19 infections. We join our partners at JCPH in encouraging vaccinations and boosters for eligible individuals and testing. As a reminder, mask wearing continues to be required in all Jeffco Public Schools. 

As you likely noticed we are using the word “guidance.” This is a big shift away from the mandates and requirements we were previously enforcing as a district. Overall, national, state, and local public health agencies are moving toward an approach of self-care and responsibility as COVID-19 starts to transition to a disease that is always present. This means that the pandemic will not end with the virus disappearing but that transmission and related severe illness (hospitalization and death) will likely slow even as the virus continues to circulate at a baseline level.

Public health agencies are asking people to monitor their own health and for students and staff to use testing resources regularly or consult with your health provider if symptomatic. Individuals can then use that information to make decisions and act in ways that are best for them, their family members, colleagues, classmates, and neighbors. To keep yourself informed, you can continue to check the online dashboard for positive COVID case information. Please note that quarantines are no longer being tracked on the dashboard due to changes in public health guidance.

Things are changing quickly. We know it’s confusing. Below we are clarifying our guidance, around isolation and quarantines, testing, new JCPH guidelines, and what’s next. We remain firmly committed to the health and well-being of our school communities and thank you for your partnership in this extraordinary effort. 

Isolation and Quarantines 

JCPH recommends families use this CDPHE diagram to support their decisions around returning to learning following a positive COVID-19 Symptom Screen. As a reminder, in Jeffco we are following the new isolation and quarantine period, which has been shortened from 10 days to 5 days. Here’s what that means:

Positive Covid Test and/or COVID Symptomatic

  • Stay home (isolate) for 5 days minimum from symptom onset.*
  • Return to school/work on day 6 - as long as there is no fever for at least 24 hours without using medication and symptoms resolved or greatly improved.
  • No test is required to return.

Exposed to COVID and Unvaccinated

  • Stay home (quarantine) for 5 days minimum from the last day of exposure.*
  • Return to school/work on day 6 - as long as there is no fever for at least 24 hours without using medication and no symptoms have been developed since exposure.
  • No test is required to return.

Exposed to COVID and Vaccinated

  • Attend school/work so long as not COVID-19 symptomatic.

*Required by public health

We strongly encourage everyone in our community to consider the most vulnerable among us (those most at risk for serious illness) and act in ways that safeguard their well-being. Please leverage testing resources—through your healthcare provider if you are symptomatic regardless of your vaccination status—to make informed decisions. 

Testing

Anyone who thinks they might have COVID-19 should get tested. Students and staff members who are symptom free can go to a local testing site for surveillance testing. We are not offering testing for symptomatic individuals due to the exposure risk that presents to students and staff in our facilities. To request BINAX At-Home Testing Kits from CDPHE or for more information, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/covid-19-testing-at-home. Please note we do not currently have kits to distribute. 

About New JCPH Guidance 

JCPH guidance applies to all public, private, childcare, and educational settings for children as well as higher education institutions in Jefferson County. Thus, as a district, we must review the guidance and operationalize it, as applicable. In Jeffco, this work is underway and we do not anticipate any major changes as a result. As we’ve learned over the past two years, guidance from public health can change at any moment. We will do our best to share the most updated information as it is available.

What’s next?

Local and state epidemiologists are forecasting a continued short-term increase in COVID cases, followed by a relatively swift plateau and then a drop in cases. While we feel this bodes well for our continued commitment to in-person learning, we want to be transparent that Jeffco, like other school districts, is dealing with shortages due to staff being out with a positive COVID test or symptoms. 

As we previously communicated, we have instituted a process, starting January 14, wherein schools will communicate directly with their communities when their educator absence rate reaches a 25% threshold. This threshold is an indication that the school is at risk for a temporary move to remote instruction or a short-term closure. We do want to be transparent that there may be instances when we must consider remote instruction or a short-term closure at a threshold lower than 25%. We remain flexible with a primary focus on effective operation of a school.
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