COVID-19 and the return to school; what you need to know

Coronavirus

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — As students return to school, El Paso County Public Health is trying to prepare parents for all sorts of scenarios.

One of the biggest changes relates to masks. No longer mandatory (except on buses), students and their parents can choose whether to wear face coverings.

Another hot topic: positive cases. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, that student must go home and quarantine until all three pieces of criteria are met: 1) 10 days pass from the first symptom, 2) the person is fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medicine, and 3) symptoms improve.

Courtesy of El Paso County Public Health

The health department says people who were around the positive case should also quarantine unless they have been fully vaccinated for more than two weeks and are asymptomatic or if they have tested positive themselves in the last 90 days.

When it comes to contact tracing, tracing can be done either by the school or by the health department. Either way, it must be done.

“Close contacts” are considered as anyone who was within three feet of the case in a classroom-type setting for more than 15 minutes or who had physical contact with the positive person.

An outbreak is defined as five or more confirmed cases among non-household members within 14 days.

Whether an outbreak leads to a school closure will be left up to the school and El Paso County Public Health.

You can read the public health department’s full guidance by downloading the document below.

It’s important to note that all of this information is subject to change as schools continue adapting to COVID-19. For information about your specific school district, contact your school administrators.

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