The guidance in the toolkit will be adjusted over the coming weeks based on feedback and the evolving situation with COVID-19.
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Guidance Regardless of Phase
Physical Distance (applies more strongly to middle and high school settings)
- 6-foot between-student spacing reduces disease transmission risk and should be preferred; 3-foot distancing still provides substantial benefits and is acceptable in the context of a comprehensive disease control strategy.
- Teachers and other adult staff should make the greatest effort to adhere to 6-foot distancing, as their risk and disease transmission potential is higher than students.
- Create a seating chart and maintain children in assigned seats throughout the day as possible.
- Consider staggered arrival and pickup times to reduce crowding in entrances and hallways
Class and Cohort Size
- Cohorting: the practice of keeping the same students and teachers in the same small group at all times during the school day. Ideally, changes in cohorts are timed to align with school semesters or trimesters after lengthy breaks, but even shorter blocks of time, such as two weeks, can be effective. Cohorting helps limit the number of contacts each individual has. As a result, if quarantines or dismissals are needed, they may affect fewer people, resulting in fewer disruptions to in-person learning. Students may be in multiple cohorts (for example, bus ride to school, after-school sports, classroom).
- Class sizes and cohorting guidance will vary with phase and grade level (see below).
- Cohorts are encouraged to reduce contact with others.
- Cohorts reduce the number of exposed students/staff from a confirmed COVID-19 case and will result in fewer students/staff required to quarantine.
- Special service providers need not be included in the teacher-to-classroom ratios. These providers should minimize contact with non-client students and other adults in classrooms.
- Develop a plan for staff who travel between schools (e.g., school nurses, psychologists, therapists). For example, consider allowing them to have virtual meetings in place of physical school visits and revise scheduling to limit their visits to multiple campuses.
Minimize Transmission Risk
- Use physical barriers as appropriate to decrease respiratory droplet transmission.
- Refer symptomatic employees and students to a health care professional for evaluation and potential testing, as well as to the CDPHE Symptom Support tool. (Additional Guidance), and report to local public health agencies 3.
- Identify a dedicated room or space to isolate symptomatic individuals until they can return home or to a health facility, cleaning and disinfecting appropriately between use. Locate isolation space apart from health office functions.
- Regularly clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces and shared objects (Additional Guidance).
- Maximize ventilation and increase circulation of outdoor air, referencing ASHRAE guidance (PDF).
- Ventilation Guidance from CDPHE
- Keep hand sinks stocked with soap and paper towels. Use signage to encourage frequent hand washing.
Confirmed COVID-19 case
- Prepare to shift to remote learning (2 - 14 days) when school closures or cohort dismissals occur in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case among students or employees.
- CDPHE has provided exposure definitions, return-to-school guidance for both ill students, staff and their contacts, and outbreak definitions on their website. These represent a statewide standard.
Coordinate with local public health
- Know your LPHA contact.
- Be prepared to provide information about students and staff who were in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.
- Comply with applicable state and local orders, in addition to below.
- Require face coverings over the nose and mouth for all staff, including during in-person instruction, unless they cannot medically tolerate a face covering. (Additional Guidance).
- If needed, face coverings may be temporarily removed or transparent alternatives may temporarily be substituted when learning differences interfere with instruction.
- If necessary, the mask may be removed for instruction for the shortest duration possible.
- Even when in a cohort, face coverings over the nose and mouth are required for all staff.
- Adults are required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth when they are with other adults including in faculty lounges.
- For questions and answers about masks in schools and elsewhere, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/mask-guidance.
- Employees will undergo home temperature and symptom screening or self-screening.
- Remain home if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or if a family member or other close contact has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms.
- Employees unable to complete screening prior to arrival will undergo screening on site. Maximize privacy and minimize exposure to others during onsite screenings.
Work Environment Options
- Consider developing staff leave, online learning options, and alternative work duty policies that support employees working from home.
- Comply with legal requirements to provide alternative work assignments for older adults, pregnant people, and those identified as at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
- Wash hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Train staff on specific health/safety protocols.
- Comply with applicable state and local orders, in addition to below.
- There is a state public health order that individuals 11 and over are to wear a mask/cloth face covering. Masks are also strongly recommended for children between 3-10 years.
- Encourage cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for students up to age 10 years, except during outdoor recess and exercise activities.
- Require cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for students ages 11 years and older, including during in-person instruction unless the student has a health or education reason for not wearing a mask.
- Face covering styles with other than head-strap style attachments should be preferred for students 10 and under to increase safety and improve ability of students to remove their own masks.
- Masks do not need to be worn during outdoor recess and exercise activities where appropriate distancing can be maintained.
- All masks should be removed during nap times and when younger children can not be directly observed; masks should be designed so students can remove them without assistance.
- More information about masking, including answers to many questions for schools, parents, and providers, is available from Children’s Hospital Colorado. This includes specific information about health-related masking concerns.
- Establish guidance for parents on temperature checks, home hygiene, and attendance/reporting procedure.
- Students will undergo home temperature and symptom screening or self-screening.
- Remain home if experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if a family member or other close contact has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms.
- Students unable to complete screening prior to arrival will undergo screening on site. Maximize privacy and minimize exposure to others during onsite screenings.
- How to conduct a facility health screening
Populations identified as at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- Encourage parents/guardians of children with special health needs to discuss the risks and benefits of in-person vs. remote schooling with their health care provider.
- Facilitate alternative arrangements (including remote learning and strategies to reduce risk of in-person learning) when appropriate.
- Reduce the risk of transmission by limiting capacity of school buses, having household and classroom units sit together, and establishing more frequent and shorter trips.
- Bus services should follow guidelines developed for public transportation, with the exception that household groups may sit closely together with appropriate distancing between household groups.
- If physical distancing is not feasible on a bus, all students must wear cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth, unless the student has a health reason for not wearing a mask or if a child is unable to wear a mask safely without supervision.
- If physical distancing is feasible, encourage cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for students up to age 10 years, and require cloth face coverings over the nose and mouth for students age 11 years and older, unless the student has a health reason for not wearing a mask or if a child is unable to wear a mask safely without supervision
- Wash hands frequently: 20 seconds with soap and water.