DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment released a report on Wednesday to help school districts evaluate the costs and benefits of in-person or remote learning. A number of schools districts announced the switch to remote learning this week as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state.
The CDPHE report finds schools have generally been able to mitigate the spread of the virus. Successful strategies included in the report include cohorting, mask wearing and disease investigation.
Health officials say students in grades K-8 are at a lower risk for in-school transmission than high school students.
CDPHE released the following recommendations for Colorado school districts:
- Prioritize in-person learning for specific populations based on need and risk
- Eliminate or greatly restrict extracurricular activities
- Implement additional protective measures in school
Officials at CDPHE say it is important for schools to evaluate their ability to support the mental health needs of students, staff and families, especially if districts move to remote learning.
“Regardless of what strategy schools adopt, communication and coordination with educators, staff and other stakeholders in the school community is paramount,” stated CDPHE officials. “Individuals with medical vulnerabilities and other safety concerns should continue to receive support if they choose to learn or work remotely.”
Gov. Jared Polis signed an Executive Order on Nov. 2 that further clarifies that school districts are allowed to make decisions about in-person, hybrid or virtual learning.
CDPHE released guidance for how schools and child care centers should respond to outbreaks under different scenarios. The Colorado Department of Education has COVID-19 guidance for school districts listed on its website.