By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– Aurora Public Schools say requiring the vaccine for its staff once it is FDA approved is part of a comprehensive plan to make sure the upcoming school year is safe for students and adults still at risk of contracting COVID-19. The district will not require masks but says it will highly encourage all students who cannot get the vaccine to wear one while in school.

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“The science is very clear around vaccines right, that they are safe and effective at preventing severe disease and death,” said Patti Moon, the chief communications officer for Aurora Public Schools. “We want to make sure that we’re using science as our foundation for when we’re planning for next year.”

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The district is also strongly recommending students 12 and older to get the vaccine but it will not be required for them. While students without the vaccine will not be forced to wear masks, staff will have to beginning Aug. 2 if they are not vaccinated. Once the FDA approves the vaccine for non-emergency use, staff will get 45 days to submit proof.

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“That is an important safety mitigation strategy to ensuring that we can have that safe consistent, in-person learning,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

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Denver Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools told CBS4 their guidelines are still being finalized.

Douglas County School District said face coverings will be strongly encouraged for students 11 and under when learning indoors but not required. Those 12 and older are strongly encouraged if they are not vaccinated. That district will also not use quarantine as part of their response, the vaccine is not required for anyone including staff.

APS explained it will use quarantining, enhanced cleaning, and daily screenings as part of their plan in addition to the vaccine and mask requirements for staff.

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“We’re not just focusing on one mitigation strategy, we multiple layers that are stacked on top of each other, so masks are not the only layer,” Moon said.

Shawn Chitnis