Should my kid go to school today?
That’s the question state officials want parents to ask themselves every morning during the pandemic, especially if their student is exhibiting any new or worsening symptoms of a possible illness.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released a series of flowcharts intended to help parents and school staff determine the best course of action when a student or teacher isn’t feeling well, or when there is a COVID-19 case in a school.
Guidance differs depending on the level of community spread where a school is located. A “low” level of transmission is defined by the standards of the Protect Your Neighbors phase under Gov. Jared Polis’ reopening plan, while “sustained” is defined under the Stay at Home or Safer at Home phases. Right now, the state remains in the Safer at Home phase.
According to Chalkbeat Colorado, updates to the guidelines may allow schools to send fewer children home and let them return more quickly depending on if they exhibit or come in contact with someone exhibiting “minor” symptoms, such as sore throat or body aches, or “major” symptoms, such as fever and loss of taste or smell. It’s worth noting that experts estimate up to 40% of adolescents who contract COVID-19 may never get a fever.
Many Colorado school districts are beginning the year remotely, though some are preparing to return in-person, even as one had a teacher test positive for the virus as recently as last week.
Keep these tools handy if you or your family falls into the latter category.
At-home symptom checklist: Does the teacher or student in your household have any of these symptoms? CDPHE recommends staying home, informing your school and contacting a health provider to get a COVID-19 test.
At-school symptom evaluation: When a teacher or child arrives at school and then begins feeling unwell, nurses or administrators should use this chart to determine dismissal protocol.
When to return to school: If a teacher or student exhibits symptoms similar to COVID-19, this chart will help them determine when they should go back into a building. This is not the quarantine protocol for a positive case of the virus, rather a procedure for monitoring symptoms that may or may not be related to a COVID-19 infection.
Class quarantine protocol: When a student or school staff member is out for exhibiting symptoms, being at risk of exposure to COVID-19 or getting a virus test, leaders should use this evaluation to determine who, if anyone, should be quarantined.
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