Important COVID-19 Update
December 31, 2021
Dear Thompson, Poudre and Estes Park school district communities,
As winter break comes to a close and we move into the new year, we are reaching out today to provide you with an update on the impact of COVID-19 within our communities. Our school districts continue to prioritize in-person education and the unique experiences students, teachers and staff have when they are together in school. We are steadfast in this shared commitment, even as COVID cases of the more contagious Omicron variant rise quickly.
Recently, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released new masking, quarantine and isolation guidance to align with changes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although CDPHE hasn’t yet issued new school-specific guidelines, we want to share what we currently know. Because this situation is so fluid, our districts have jointly developed interim protocols to make things as clear and consistent as possible for our students, families and staff. These steps have been taken in partnership with officials at the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE). As always, please note that adjustments to policies and procedures may become necessary due to health conditions and changes in guidance by health officials.
Masks: Our districts will continue to require masks. We will also keep following the county’s current mask order. Based on updated health recommendations, we encourage the use of KN95 masks for optimal protection instead of cloth masks.
Isolation: Those who test positive for COVID will receive orders from LCDHE to isolate from school settings for 10 days. This is different from CDC’s five-day guidance, which is intended for the general population and not specific to schools.
- LCDHE says that students who test positive for COVID should isolate themselves for five days. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are improving, they can join in regular public activities on day six but not attend school until day 11. This “policy is to continue to mitigate potential spread inside of our school settings and avoid disruptions while we await clarification to the CDC guidelines,” according to LCDHE.
- If your child tested positive, please don’t send them to school until day 11. They may not return sooner.
Quarantine: At this point, LCDHE is following the CDC and CDPHE guidelines for quarantine. Close contacts of a positive case now must quarantine for five days from the date of exposure, instead of 10. Quarantines and individual classroom shifts to remote learning minimize the potential for whole-school or district-level shifts to remote learning or closures. LCDHE determines whether something is a high-risk activity (i.e. athletics, band, choir, etc.) and could require these close contacts to complete the standard 10-day quarantine.
- You are no longer exempt from quarantine if you have previously tested positive for COVID.
- You cannot return to school if you are symptomatic and must communicate with your school health office to confirm your return date.
- Close contacts in an Early Childhood Education-related case will still likely quarantine for 10 days from the date of exposure because students cannot as reliably wear masks.
- Below are changes to exemptions based on vaccination status.
Change to definition of immunization and quarantine exemption: It is no longer enough to just be “fully vaccinated” or to have previously tested positive for COVID to be exempted from quarantine. Only those who have met one of the following criteria are exempted from quarantine if deemed a close contact to a positive COVID case, according to new CDPHE guidance:
- Have completed a full series AND have received a booster dose, OR
- Are 14 days past and still within 180 days from their second Pfizer or Moderna dose (ineligible for booster at this time), OR
- Are 14 days past and still within 2 months of their Johnson and Johnson dose (ineligible for booster at this time).
- Note: If you have completed your full vaccinated series and are eligible for a booster dose but have not received it, you may need to quarantine.
- Need an appointment? More info >>
Don’t go to school sick: Please don’t go to school with ANY illness symptoms, no matter how mild. This includes a runny nose or scratchy throat. Learn more about COVID symptoms here.
Testing: We encourage testing if you or any member of your family is experiencing illness symptoms, traveled over winter break or was with a mixed-household group for the holidays. More info >>
The safety and security of each of our students and staff members remains our top priority. Although COVID-19 will continue to impact classrooms throughout our districts, we will keep taking the steps necessary to maximize in-person learning opportunities.
Your partnership and support is greatly appreciated.
Dr. Marc Schaffer
Thompson School District
Poudre School District
Estes Park School District