Jefferson County, Colo. — With the second school semester underway and the rapid growth of the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) has created updated guidance for individuals in school settings. JCPH and Jeffco Public Schools (JPS) are partnering to implement these guidelines to continue to ensure safe and healthy school environments.The JCPH guidance aligns with those recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), with minor modifications to best serve the Jefferson County community.
As the omicron variant continues to spread widely in our community, Jeffco will continue to see a surge in COVID-19 cases, and that increases the risk of widespread exposures everywhere including classrooms. This updated guidance is intended to help schools safely continue in-person instruction, which continues to be a shared priority for JCPH and JPS.
“We know our community’s school-aged children, their parents and school faculty and staff have been through so much. Clear, understandable and consistent guidelines are vital. That’s why it’s been so important to our team at JCPH to work closely with JPS to support our school communities as we work to prioritize the health and safety of all members of our community,” said Dr. Dawn Comstock, Executive Director at JCPH. “JCPH extends a sincere thank you to the schools, teachers and staff who are working tirelessly to keep kids in schools. This guidance is meant to support the hard work they do and to continue COVID-19 mitigation and prevention strategies from a united front.”
COVID-19 rates continue to substantially rise in Jefferson County, with 8,895 new cases confirmed between Jan. 5-11, an incidence rate of 1,516.4 cases per 100,000 people. At this time, 108 Jeffco residents are hospitalized due to COVID-19, and we sadly have continued to see increases in the number of fatalities due to COVID-19 in our community, with 1,208 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Although most children have less severe illness when infected with COVID-19 compared to adults, they can still get it, become ill and spread it to others. Because the omicron variant is more highly contagious than previous variants of COVID-19, school and district staffing shortages are likely, which poses a substantial risk to in-person learning. The JCPH guidelines — which apply in all school settings, including public, private and childcare — strongly recommend a layered mitigation approach, to reduce this risk.
The updated JCPH guidance includes shortened isolation and quarantine times, updated quarantine exemptions, a continued prioritization of vaccination and masking and strong recommendations for additional layered viral mitigation efforts aligned with state and national guidelines.
“We are grateful for JCPH’s continued efforts to protect everyone in Jefferson County, especially our students, staff, and families from severe complications associated with COVID-19 infections, said Tracy Dorland, JPS Superintendent. “We join our partners at JCPH in their recommendations around vaccinations and boosters for eligible individuals as well as testing.”
JCPH continues to recommend that the best protection against severe complications from COVID-19 and the best approach to maintain in-person learning is to get vaccinated and receive a booster dose if you are eligible. Mask wearing is also an integral component to help suppress transmission of COVID-19 and plays an important role in implementing the new shortened COVID-19 isolation and quarantine requirements. Mask requirements are still in place, including in all Jeffco Public Schools, for all people aged 3 and up as required by PHO 20-006.
To learn more about COVID-19 prevention and resources, including more information about all topics listed above, please visit our website at www.jeffco.us/coronavirus.
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 https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.