COLORADO SPRINGS — As schools prep to reopen for in-person learning in the fall, several organizations released guidelines to keep kids safe.
Along with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics recently released national guidelines, and now Children’s Hospital Colorado have their recommendations.
“This really was born out of a desire that the group really wanted some more in-depth guidance and some more practical ideas about how to put forth some of the things that are coming from the national level. So, this was really our effort to partner with our local schools here in Colorado,” said Sam Dominguez, MD pediatric infections disease specialist for Children’s Hospital Colorado.
The guidelines are broken into three tiers, each one complements the others:
Tier 1: Risk mitigation practices that are the most effective at reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission among students and staff. Those practices include frequent hand washing, practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings and ensuring current vaccinations. Those are widely regarded as commonsense practices, and they do not require a significant financial investment by schools, which is particularly important as schools have seen their funding slashed due to the economic slowdown associated with the pandemic.
Tier 2: Risk mitigation practices that have the ability to further reduce the transmission of COVID-19 when used in tandem with the Tier 1 practices. The Tier 2 actions include screening students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms, quickly isolating students and staff who exhibit signs of illness, using a pod system of education that groups students and staff into a single, isolated group, and eliminating the need for students and staff to touch common surfaces.
Tier 3: Risk mitigation practices that, while not core to a school’s re-opening, are important practices to incorporate. These include conducting enhanced cleanings, being aware of and working to manage airflow, and education efforts for students and their families, as well as staff.Children’s Hospital Colorado
“The Tier 1 really are basic core principals of public health and infection control that not only schools should be doing, but that everyone should be doing across the state and across our country actually,” Dominguez said.
This includes washing hands frequently, wearing face coverings, and maintaining social distancing.
“We understand that there’s no such thing as getting rid of all risk. We can never get risk down to zero. We thought we wanted to take the approach of, ‘How do we best mitigate that risk to make it the safest possible situation for our kids here in Colorado,” Dominguez said.
Children’s Colorado says their recommendations are also a cost-effective way to keep students in school, adding schools do more than just educate.
“They are a safety net for lots of different other conditions, they provide mental health services for children., They also actually provide meals for a large number of children throughout our state as well, breakfast, lunch are often provided for students. In addition, they also allow our adults and parents to work. And so, from that standpoint, they have an economic impact as well,” Dominguez said.