Jefferson County, Colo. — As Jefferson County students soon return to in-person learning, and on the heels of the release of back-to-school guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is releasing its own guidelines for a healthy, safe return to in-person learning.
JCPH’s guidelines for schools and childcares in the county align with the CDC’s, and the scientific consensus across trusted health sources including CDC, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, is clear: a layered mitigation approach is most effective in school settings among school-aged children. Specifically, JCPH’s guidelines recommend promoting COVID-19 vaccination to all eligible youth and adults and masking for all individuals in the school setting regardless of vaccination status, as well as implementing a testing and isolation/quarantine protocol. CDC recently released a Science Brief on COVID-19 and schools, which includes more than 100 scientific sources, supporting this approach.
JCPH also reminds all people in Jeffco that COVID-19, including the more transmissible Delta variant, is rapidly spreading in our community. To help ensure a safe and fully in-person school year, we all must take precautions to keep our community as safe as possible. For our young people and their families, this is especially important, since children under 12 are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. Here in Jeffco, about 45 percent of adolescents ages 12-15 and about 40 percent of young people ages 16-24 have not received even their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
“Jeffco’s children have already given up so much in the last year and a half. It’s on all of us to help make sure they don’t lose any more by missing out on in-person learning and beloved school-based extracurriculars because of illness, quarantines or outbreaks,” said Dr. Dawn Comstock, Executive Director at JCPH. “We all have a role to play in keeping our community and our community’s kids safe. If you haven’t already, get vaccinated now. If you’re in a school setting – regardless of if you’re a student, teacher, staff member or parent – we strongly urge you to wear a mask at all times. In-person educational activities must be emphasized, prioritized, and protected; they are simply too important to our children to allow them to be endangered.”
As the school year begins, and risk for our school-aged children and teens increases with a return to crowded school settings as the Delta variant continues to increase in Jeffco, JCPH offers parents and caregivers several evidence-based tips. We want to empower parents and caregivers to make decisions regarding their children’s health and safety so they feel comfortable going into this academic year.
“Parents and caregivers should also talk to your children about returning to school safely, and help make sure they have the tools to make safe choices,” Comstock said. “Most importantly, please don’t let your guard down. The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over.”
To help parents and caregivers better navigate this complex and important time, JCPH is hosting a telephone town hall with officials from JCPH, CDPHE and more called “Heading Back to School with COVID-19: Guidance for Parents & Caregivers.” The town hall will take place on Aug. 12, 2021, from 6-8 p.m. and will be available in English and Spanish. To find out how to join the telephone town hall and submit questions in advance, please visit https://www.jeffco.us/4039/Community-Conversations.
JCPH is here to help support our community during the COVID-19 vaccination process. Our team is available to answer your questions and talk through any concerns you may have. Call JCPH’s COVID Vax Information Center (C-VIC) at 303-239-7000 and press option 1. Find out how you can get a free COVID-19 vaccine near you — any day of the week — at www.jeffco.us/vaccinesignup.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.