HAE

LDCHE provides schools with resources and expertise while also intervening in outbreaks, when they occur. We also support the districts, private, and charter schools and provide consultation to:

  • help make decisions related to COVID-19 in schools
  • provide data and trends to our community and our schools so they can make informed decisions on how to best protect their students and staff
  • conduct interviews with cases to minimize spread of the virus from those who are sick

Higher vaccination rates in our community have allowed us to open capacity levels and return to many normal day-to-day activities in much of our community. We appreciate that the majority of individuals in our community have been willing to help protect themselves and others through vaccination. We will continue to focus on vaccinations as the primary way to keep schools in-person, with as minimal disruption as possible.

Throughout the pandemic we have learned many lessons, and now we have community data from what we saw in schools last year. Our schools did a great job of keeping kids and staff safe. Distancing, masking, quarantining and hand washing measures put in place helped most of our schools have very low case counts. We saw much of our spread from activities outside of the classroom. Sports, parties, sleepovers, club practices, and playdates contributed to many of our cases in schools last year.

Many of our school-age kids have been vaccinated, and we are optimistic that an increasingly high level of vaccination will help us keep cases low in our schools this year. But we still have more work to do to increase vaccination and ensure as many children as possible have as many uninterrupted days at school as possible. We need vaccination more than ever with the highly contagious Delta variant that is now circulating in our community. There is still time to get vaccinated and help protect students and teachers as we return to school this fall.

We know not everyone can be vaccinated yet, but we are hopeful that once younger children are eligible, even more children will get vaccinated. The higher our immunization rates are, the fewer disruptions there will be in schools this year.

Larimer County Department of Health and Environment COVID-19 Operations Guide for Schools and Child Care

Subject to Change-Updated September 2021

This guidance was developed to ensure Larimer County can ensure the following desired outcomes: 

  • Keep children learning in-person at schools and childcares with minimal disruptions
  • Help our hospitals maintain sufficient resources to meet all critical health care needs in our community
  • Return to pre-pandemic conditions through near universal vaccination in Larimer County
  • Masks are strongly recommended for students and staff when indoors at school. 
    School districts can choose to require masks for all students and staff. Masks should be welcomed for those who choose to wear them even if not required. 
    Masks are required on school buses - to and from school and on all field trips. Masking on public transportation is a federal requirement, including school buses. Please see this federal order for more information.
  • Masks are required school-wide for schools in an outbreak status.

Schools and child care facilities are required to report cases of COVID-19 they are made aware of to public health, even if testing was performed elsewhere. Schools are able to disclose this information to public health without prior written consent under FERPA’s health or safety emergency exception, because someone who has COVID-19 represents a potential threat to the health and safety of others at the school. This is true even if there is not an outbreak. 

Public health then interviews the people who have COVID-19 and conducts contact tracing to determine who might be close contacts of the case, and makes recommendations about isolation and quarantine.  

Schools and child care providers are required to report all outbreaks to the health department or CDPHE within four hours. Schools and child care providers must report both suspected and confirmed outbreaks.

Reporting Cases and Outbreaks to LCDHE

  • Schools and child care providers can report positive cases and outbreaks by completing this reporting form.
  • Schools will be notified by the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) if a classroom or activities within the school are in a pre-outbreak or outbreak status:
    • Definition  of Pre-Outbreak: 2-4 cases with evidence of transmission in a single classroom/activity or other close contact in the school setting (including transportation to or from school affiliated events)
    • Definition of Outbreak:
      • Five or more cases of COVID-19, of which at least one case has had a positive molecular amplification test or antigen test, among students, teachers, and/or staff from separate households with onset within 14 days in a single classroom/activity or other close contact in the school setting (including transportation to or from school affiliated events)

OR

  • 10% of classrooms in a school are impacted by COVID-19 cases
  • If 10% of students or staff within a classroom/activity/school report COVID-19 symptoms, LCDHE may require the implementation of mitigation strategies including universal masking, contact tracing, quarantine of close contacts, weekly testing, and/or distancing within the affected classroom/activity prior to reaching pre-outbreak or outbreak status.
  • If not already completed, compile seating charts, rosters, and vaccination status for all impacted classrooms/activities. These items do not need to be sent to LCDHE, but should be available upon request.
  • Notify staff, teachers, and the parents and guardians of students informing them of the possible outbreak and required protection measures within 2 working days
  • Symptom-monitoring of all exposed individuals and/or cohorts for 14 days from date of last exposure
  • In consultation with LCDHE, conduct contact tracing and quarantine any close contact who does not meet at least one of the individual-level protection criteria (listed below): 
    • Fully vaccinated (two weeks have passed since receiving one dose of J&J or the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines)
    • Previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days using a molecular or antigen test collected by a trained medical professional. Antibody tests do not meet this criteria.
    • Participating in weekly screening testing
    • Both parties wearing a mask at the time of exposure
  • Universal mask wearing throughout the entire school, including staff and teachers. As a reminder, if both parties are wearing a mask at the time of exposure, quarantines are not required.
  • Implement additional mitigation strategies in consultation with LCDHE (avoiding lunches that bring together classrooms and grades, cohorting students, etc.)
  • Set up meetings between LCDHE and school staff to discuss trends, adjust protective measures and other protocols as necessary once a week at minimum
  • Universal mask-wearing throughout entire school, including staff and teachers for a period of no less than 14 days or until the outbreak is resolved
  • Symptom monitoring of all exposed individuals for 14 days from date of last exposure
  • If not already completed, compile seating charts, rosters, and vaccination status for all students and staff completed within 2 working days. These items do not need to be sent to LCDHE but should be available upon request.
  • Notify staff, teachers, and the parents and guardians of students informing them of the outbreak and required protection measures within 2 working days
  • Organize scheduled meetings between LCDHE and school staff to discuss trends, adjust protective measures and other protocols as necessary once a week at minimum
  • In consultation with LCDHE, conduct contact tracing for quarantine of all close contacts who do not meet at least one of the individual-level protection criteria listed below:
    • Fully vaccinated (two weeks have passed since receiving one dose of J&J or the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines)
    • Previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days using a molecular or antigen test collected by a trained medical professional. Antibody tests do not meet this criteria.

Please note: For schools in an outbreak status, participating in weekly serial testing, and both individuals (ill and exposed) being masked at the time of exposure are not considered exemptions from quarantine.

  • Daily testing among outbreak classrooms or activities
  • Offering onsite testing for the entire school until the outbreak is resolved
  • Offering onsite vaccination. As a reminder fully vaccinated students and staff are not required to quarantine if identified as a close contact.
  • Implement increased hand-washing practices and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces
    Implement additional mitigation strategies in consultation with LCDHE (avoiding lunches that bring together classrooms and grades, cohorting students, etc.)
  • Doubling down on maximizing ventilation (opening windows, moving activities outside where possible)
  • Confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases should stay home and not come back to school until fever-free for 24 hours, AND other symptoms have improved, AND it has been at least 10 days from onset of symptoms, or if asymptomatic, 10 days from positive test result. LCDHE will issue isolation letters to students and staff who are identified as probable or confirmed COVID cases.

    In the event of a positive COVID-19 case at school or school activity, schools will issue a letter notifying parents that a positive individual was in their student’s class/activity and that LCDHE will notify the families via email IF their student has been identified as a close contact of the case and is required to quarantine.

The CDPHE "When to Quarantine" guidance does not apply to administrative office settings within schools, staff meetings, school kitchens, school orientations, or other settings outside of the classroom and school-sponsored activities.

Please note:

  • Lunches held indoors will be treated the same as routine classroom exposures since lunch is a necessary part of in-person learning. Students who are within 6 feet of a positive case for >15 minutes when either the ill or exposed person are not masked will be considered close contacts and quarantine will be required unless the exposed person meets at least one of the following criteria:
    • Has completed COVID-19 vaccination series (2 weeks after last vaccine dose), OR
    • Test-confirmed infection in the past 90 days, OR
    • Participating in weekly serial testing and will continue to participate for at least 2 additional weeks
  • For classrooms/activities in schools that are in "outbreak" status, standard contact tracing will be conducted
  • When a high-risk exposure is identified, it is required that those potentially exposed remain out of the sport/activity and/or class until close contacts can be identified and notified by LCDHE

Staff and students should self-screen at home prior to the school day using CDPHE's At Home COVID-19 Symptom Screen for Parents and Staff, and should NOT come to school if experiencing any COVID-like symptoms: new onset of cough, fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, headaches, and/or nausea/vomiting/diarrhea.

Schools should follow the CDPHE Addressing Symptoms at School guidance.

Families and staff are encouraged to contact their medical provider if experiencing COVID-like symptoms. See CDPHE’s Return to Learn guidance.

  • Currently, vaccines are not required for staff or students by a state or county public health order. LCDHE supports and encourages individuals getting the COVID-19 vaccine who are age 12 and older. CDPHE anticipates that  COVID-19 vaccines for ages 5-11 will be available this fall.
    LCDHE will continue to share information with our community regarding COVID-19 vaccine opportunities. Find current COVID vaccine providers.
    LCDHE strongly encourages families to share student COVID-19 vaccination status with school office staff. 
    Asking someone about their vaccination status is NOT a HIPAA violation- please refer to this article for more information.
    The Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval for ages 16+ and is being marketed under the brand name “Comirnaty”.COVID-19 Vaccin
  • Seating charts are highly recommended for all classrooms and whenever possible in high-risk activities such as PE, band, choir, and other electives to allow for targeted contact tracing where possible. If no seating charts or rosters are available to LCDHE, entire classrooms/activities may be required to quarantine. Outdoor lessons are also strongly encouraged for classes where it is appropriate and when weather allows.
  • Seating charts, rosters, and vaccination status of all students/staff are required to be available to LCDHE once a school reaches pre-outbreak or outbreak status.
  • Schools and classes will not require students to remain in cohorts; however, cohorting students can reduce the number of exposures and quarantines in the event of a COVID-19 case.
    There are currently no distancing requirements; however, if desks and spacing in classrooms can be 3 feet, schools should try to accomplish this. In all other settings, 6 feet of distance between individuals is recommended.
  • Recommend using 100% fresh air to ventilate when outside air temperatures are pleasant.
  • Run fans before and after school to flush buildings. 
  • Explore possible installation of Ultraviolet Air Disinfection equipment inside of HVAC equipment across the district and/or other HVAC upgrades to support healthy learning environments.

Schools are encouraged to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces throughout the school buildings as often as possible.

Schools are encouraged to require hand washing throughout the school day and should provide scheduled time for this as much as possible.

  • Schools are strongly encouraged to host large-scale student events and assemblies outdoors.
  • If an assembly or large-scale student event is held indoors and a positive case is present, schools will exercise contact tracing.

LCDHE recommends the following considerations in music, choir and performing arts:

  • Reinforce use of masks by all students and staff when not singing or playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth (unless class is outdoors, and distance can be maintained)
  • Consider conducting the class in an outdoor/open environment or under an open tent
    If the class is held indoors, ensure the ventilation system is optimized in terms of  flow rate and filtration. Refer to the
  • Ventilation section above for more information.
  • Limit the number of students at one time in storage and backstage areas.
  • Install transparent shields or other physical barriers, where possible, to separate the students and staff.
  • Maintain physical distancing where possible to protect students and staff.
    • Modify or adjust seating arrangements during music classes to allow for a minimum of 6 feet between students and music teachers.
  • Limit exchange (or sharing) of any instruments, parts, music sheets, or any other items.
  • Install cleanable, transparent shields or other barriers to physically separate music staff and students.
  • Use disposable absorbent pads or other receptacles, where possible, to catch the contents of spit valves. Discard and clean properly after use.
  • Consider using “bell covers” for the openings of brass instruments and specially designed bags with hand openings for woodwind instruments to minimize the generation of droplets and aerosols.
  • Limit, where possible, sharing of props, costumes, and wigs.
  • Clean and disinfect dressing rooms, green rooms, and production areas 
  • Consider holding virtual or outdoor performances instead of indoor, in-person performances