By Jennifer McRae

DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Public Health has released its recommendations for schools when it comes to COVID-19 prevention. Health officials recommend that school districts consider either mask requirements for all unvaccinated individuals or a masking requirement for all individuals in schools, particularly in higher-risk environments.

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This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance and as the state defends itself against the Delta variant.

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The CDC recommends indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of who has been vaccinated.

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The CDPHE’s guide for schools has been updated to reflect the new guidelines on masking in schools. The guide goes into effect on Aug. 1.

“We all want children to be back at school and as safe as possible. Masks will help us slow the spread of the Delta variant and avoid school closures,” said Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, CDPHE, in a statement. “Masks are an added layer of protection, as we hope that even more children ages 12+ will get vaccinated.”

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Because many students have yet to be vaccinated and those under 12 are not eligible, state officials “agree that schools need to take thoughtful mitigation steps to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and prevent school outbreaks.”

Jennifer McRae