DENVER (CBS4) – New data shows a growing number of middle and high school students are getting sick with COVID-19. In fact, a quarter of all new cases in Colorado are people younger than 19.

“We are at the point of exploring options to try and decrease the burden of quarantine from schools, on families, we do recognize it’s disruptive to education,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado Department of Health and Environment epidemiologist.

Dr. Rachel Herlihy

Dr. Rachel Herlihy (credit: CBS)

Leaders at the CDPHE understand the frustrations voiced by several Denver area superintendents. Twelve of them recently wrote a letter to the department requesting the quarantine guidance policy not apply in schools because of the disruptions it has caused.

“Unfortunately we are also at a place where are seeing increased disease transmission occurring in kids,” Herlihy said.

She explained, the data just isn’t there yet for wiggle room.

“Norovirus would be a good example, we characterize an outbreak as something that is taking a quarter or a third of the students,” Chris Gdowski, Adam 12 Fiver Star Schools Superintendent said.

Gdowski contends, the threshold for what is deemed a COVID outbreak is too low. He notes, if two kids have been around each other and get COVID within 14 days, that’s considered an outbreak.

(credit: CBS)

“But there’s a balance here, we know that these disease control strategies we’re using, isolation and quarantine are really important and effective at controlling transmission,” Herlihy added.

Data also does not pinpoint where kids are contracting the virus, whether it’s at school, or from extracurricular activities. Herlily said it is better to be on the safe side.