The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released its Practical Guide for Operationalizing CDC's School Guidance for the 2022-2023 school year. The department will also provide free COVID-19 testing to schools.
The CDPHE is no longer recommending that entire classrooms quarantine over positive cases. The department is shifting its focus to clusters of cases and outbreaks instead of individual cases and contact tracing.
"We continue to prioritize and support uninterrupted learning in all communities, and we have worked closely with local public health directors, school superintendents, school boards, teachers, and the broader school community to ensure this guidance meets the needs of schools statewide," said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, in a statement. "Earlier this year, we shifted our response in schools away from case-based responses to a transmission mitigation strategy. This guidance, in conjunction with free testing, will provide schools the tools they need to mitigate COVID-19 disruptions and keep Colorado kids healthy."
Additional Information from the CDPHE:
CDPHE will again provide K-12 Colorado schools (public, private, charter, and tribal) with a free, voluntary, and statewide COVID-19 screening testing program for the 2022-23 school year. Weekly rapid antigen testing is available to all students, staff, and school volunteers. The program will provide all necessary resources, including staff, for schools to implement the weekly screening testing. School districts and schools can enroll in the screening program today. Once CDPHE has received all enrollment materials, testing can be operationalized within two weeks. This program is scheduled to begin the week of August 22, 2022.
To complement the screening testing program, CDPHE is introducing a free, voluntary, and statewide COVID-19 Test to Know program for the 2022-2023 school year. The program empowers schools to administer point-of-care rapid antigen tests in school and distribute over-the-counter rapid antigen test kits to students, staff, and volunteers to use in non-school settings. Test to Know can help schools slow COVID-19 transmission and reduce disruptions to in-person learning by making it easy for students to test both in school and at home.
Coloradans have reached high levels of protection from severe COVID-19 outcomes through both vaccination and infection — and the variants currently spreading, though more transmissible, are less severe. Vaccines are the safest, most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants (and to help avoid severe illness, hospitalization, and death). All children as young as six months old are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Staying up to date with all doses offers the highest level of protection. Coloradans can find out how many doses they and their children need with our vaccine dose calculator.
For more information on the COVID-19 school testing program and additional options for schools, visit https://covid19.colorado.gov/free-testing-schools.
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