Parents of School-Aged Children
CDC and CDPHE Guidance for Schools
We recommend the following COVID-19 guidance for schools in our counties:
- CDC guidance for K-12 Settings
- CDPHE’s Practical Guide for Operationalizing CDC’s School Guidance for K-12 Settings
- CDPHE's Infectious Disease Guidelines for Schools and Childcare
- We encourage and provide support to schools to help them follow this guidance. If you have additional concerns, please fill out Colorado’s COVID-19 related issues and concerns form.
Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely conduct in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
- COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Students and staff who are up-to-date with their vaccines and boosters are well-protected from serious illness from a COVID-19 infection.
- Free Community Vaccine Providers
Vaccination Rates for Colorado Public Schools
Check this CDPHE dashboard for COVID-19 vaccination rates in Colorado public schools. This dashboard is updated weekly and provides accurate, real-time school vaccination data. More details and information can be found in this FAQ.
Free Rapid Tests and Testing Resources
Colorado is distributing free rapid COVID-19 tests for parents, guardians, and caregivers to administer to school-aged children at-home. The program uses rapid antigen tests that show results within 15 minutes. Free tests can be ordered via the Biden administration's free at-home test program.
TCHD Pediatric COVID-19 Reporting
Our School District Case and Testing dashboard includes counts and rates for cases, vaccination, and testing with the ability to filter by date range and age group. By default, the dashboard is filtered by all cases. Select the filter on the left side to narrow down the time period and the incidence rate.
- Check our data page for more information about local case counts, vaccination rates, hospitalizations, and more. Much of our data is also broken down by county and age group.
Quarantine and Isolation within a School Setting
As an agency, we are working with our school partners in disease prevention and mitigation. We are recommending that schools send out an exposure notification outlining what the student/staff should do in school and at home if they have been exposed. If your child does develop symptoms we recommend testing. If a school identifies an outbreak contact tracing and quarantine are required for exposed unvaccinated close contacts. All schools are required to report all positive COVID cases and outbreaks to local public health.
School Lunch Guidelines
For the 2021-2022 school year, students have not been required to mask during school lunches and lunches have been considered a low-risk exposure. CDC does not require additional lunchroom mitigations for students who return to school during days 6-10 of their isolation or quarantine period. Schools may promote distancing in these situations and may consider offering additional rooms or space for students during lunch.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Support for Teens & Young Adults
- Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
- Activities, Gatherings & Holidays
Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
- Emergency Feeding: Emergency Food Resources
Colorado Department of Health & Environment (CDPHE)
- School and Childcare FAQ
- Masks and Mental Health in Children
- Prevention and Community Spread
- Reducing fear and taking care of yourself
- Paid Leave Information
- Coronavirus Resources From Children’s Hospital Colorado
- Masks for Kids: What You Need to Know About Face Coverings English | Spanish
- Tri-County: Resources in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties
- COVID-19 vaccines help Kids Be Kids, learn more at COVIDFreeKids.org
- Information on state and other Public Health Orders
- Colorado Crisis Services
- I Matter Program: I Matter is a program funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health. The program provides up to 3 free behavioral health sessions for youth in Colorado and reimburses participating providers, which are licensed clinicians from agencies and independent contractors.
- EnableMyChild: Pediatric Services
- Sanvello: An app to improve mental health
What is Quarantine?
Both quarantine and isolation help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who are sick or have been exposed to people who are sick. Generally, a person's residence is the preferred setting for both quarantine and isolation.
Quarantine applies to unvaccinated people who have had close contact with a person who either had a positive test or symptoms - even early symptoms - of illness. Learn more from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) webpage on how to quarantine.
What is Isolation?
Isolation or self-isolation applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who have a positive COVID-19 test, have symptoms of COVID-19, or are getting ill and think they might have COVID-19. Learn more from the CDPHE's webpage on how to isolate.
What is a close contact?
A close contact is a person who:
- Was within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 (even if they did not have symptoms) for 15 minutes
- Provided care for someone who is sick with COVID-19
- Had direct physical contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19
- Got exposed to respiratory droplets from someone who is sick with COVID-19 (through coughing, sneezing, shouting, etc.)
For pre-K and childcare settings, additional types of close contact such as diapering, feeding and holding should be considered. Due to the close proximity of caregiver and child in these circumstances, very short durations of exposure will warrant quarantine if a case is detected in a caregiver or child.
Does Tri-County Health Department mandate what a school is doing in regards to the COVID-19 response?
We follow current guidance from CDPHE and CDE to reopen schools safely. We make recommendations from this guidance and schools follow these recommendations based on their available resources. Schools are required to follow guidance for Case and Outbreaks in Schools when they have a positive case or suspected outbreak in their schools.
We are working daily with schools and districts in Adams and Arapahoe counties to keep your kids healthy as they return to school this year. If you have a question or concern about your specific school, reach out to your school or district leaders for more information.
What happens when someone in my child’s class tests positive?
When a student or teacher tests positive with COVID-19, the school works with TCHD to determine staff or students who need to quarantine. You will be notified if your child needs to quarantine.
The school is taking all of the required preventive measures such as requiring masks and frequently disinfecting surfaces. How were they exposed?
Covering noses/mouths and physical distancing significantly decreases risk, but similar to wearing a helmet while playing football or wearing a seatbelt in a car, they do not eliminate the risk entirely, so temporary classroom closures may still occur even if everyone follows all of the precautions.
Why can't the school or public health department tell me what classroom it was or who was sick?
There are a variety of regulations and laws that require the protection of an individual's information and identity as part of infectious disease public health response - this includes HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). This means we are unable to provide specific information about individuals who are ill or test positive for infectious diseases.
If you or someone in your family tested positive for COVID-19, we would be unable to provide your private information to other callers.
I do not believe my child should have been quarantined, who makes these decisions?
The school and school district use the guidance provided by the state to determine who was in close contact. We work with the school to determine the infectious period for the child/staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. Once the exposed people are determined, we will work with the school district for dates for quarantine.
If my child needs to quarantine do I or their siblings need to quarantine?
Only the individual who had contact with the ill/COVID-19 positive person will need to quarantine. Others in the household who were not exposed do not need to quarantine. It is recommended that your child be tested after five days of quarantine, or if they develop symptoms. If they test positive, all unvaccinated household members will need to quarantine.
Can a negative test release my child from quarantine?
TCHD works with schools to utilize CDC’s shortened quarantine options for students and staff. Students/staff are able to return to school after day five long as they are asymptomatic.
- If symptoms are present on day 5, then the case is still infectious and should remain at home until the case has been feeling much better (and fever-free) without the use of medications, for 24 hours.
- A negative test will not allow for shortened isolation periods.
Does Tri-County follow up on children/staff who are in quarantine?
We do not follow up on persons placed in quarantine after initial instructions are provided. Individuals in quarantine should monitor for fever and COVID-19 symptoms each day. If symptoms develop, consult with your health care provider and consider testing. It is up to the schools if they want to follow up on students or staff in quarantine.
Does our school have an outbreak?
All outbreaks are posted on the state's outbreak data webpage and updated every Wednesday.
My child seems to have a cold, do I need to keep them home?
CDPHE has created a screening tool to help you decide when to keep students home.