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Public Health - News

Posted on: July 30, 2021

Jefferson County Public Health Offers Guidance for Schools, Families Ahead of Back-to-School


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.

  • Ask your district or school leaders for COVID-19 vaccination rates among students and faculty/staff at your school. Encourage school leadership to require vaccination for faculty and staff who are caring for your child. Those responsible for caring for your child at school should be willing to do everything they can to protect them, including being vaccinated. Encourage school leadership to promote vaccination rates for eligible students at your school. Vaccination rates of at least 70 percent among eligible students will also provide better protection for your student. Many schools have worked very hard to help students and staff get vaccinated, and we thank and congratulate them on their efforts. 
  • Encourage your district or school leaders to prioritize in-person education over school-based extracurricular activities. Ask school leadership if they are requiring vaccination for all eligible extracurricular participants — including students, coaches, officials and other adult volunteers — or if they are requiring at least weekly testing for any participants who are unvaccinated. While school-based extracurricular activities are important to young people’s growth and development, in-person education must be prioritized. Unvaccinated individuals participating in extracurricular activities should not be allowed to endanger your child’s ability to receive a disruption-free, in-person education. If parents are particularly concerned about avoiding in-person education disruptions, you may also consider limiting your child’s participation in school-based extracurricular activities if your school does not require COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible participants. 
  • Review the newly released back-to-school guidance from CDC and school and childcare guidance from JCPH, and encourage your school to follow these guidelines. Recently updated guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC and JCPH recommend mask-wearing indoors at schools for everyone, regardless of vaccination. Ask school leadership if they will be requiring masks to help protect students, and if they are not, encourage them to do so. Masks are safe, are effective in reducing viral transmission, and can help decrease disruptions to in-person education due to illness, quarantine, and outbreaks. Ask your child to wear a mask and help them learn how to wear it properly for maximum protection.

“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

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


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 You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.

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