Dear Englewood Schools Community,
I hope you had a safe and enjoyable winter break. I wanted to provide an update on our plans as students and staff members return to school this week. As COVID rates are rising due to the Omicron variant, we have continued to seek guidance from our health partners to make sure we are doing all we can to provide a safe learning environment.
As you know, we have had strong health safeguards in place this school year. Continuing with those safeguards, we plan to return with a full schedule of in-person learning on January 6. However, given the high rates of COVID transmission in our community and knowing that many people traveled over the break or gathered with friends and family, we will be taking extra precautions for “high risk” activities as named by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) for the first few weeks back from break. This includes choir, band and sports.
We also encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated and to get a booster shot when eligible. Booster shots are available to everyone over 16 who got their first series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least 6 months ago or anyone over 18 who got a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 2 months ago.
We will continue our weekly, optional testing of students and staff members. Families can still opt in to get their student(s) tested for peace of mind. More information about the testing program is available here.
We also have received updated isolation guidance from CDPHE and Tri-County Health. The new guidelines seek to strike a balance between keeping others safe and allowing students to have as much in-person learning as possible. Here is a rundown of the new guidance:
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, they must isolate.
- Stay home for 5 days.
- If no symptoms or symptoms are resolving after 5 days, they can return to school (if they have a fever, they must stay home until the fever resolves.)
- If they still have a fever or symptoms haven’t improved after 5 days, they must stay in isolation until:
- They have no fever for at least 24 hours (without using fever reducing medication) AND
- Other symptoms have improved (for example, cough and shortness of breath have improved)
- If they did not have symptoms when they tested positive but developed them AFTER, they must continue to isolate for 5 days after symptoms started and are improving as described above.
- Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.
As always, if a student or staff member is exposed to someone with COVID-19 IN A LOW-RISK SETTING AT SCHOOL, regardless of vaccination status, they must:
- Wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day 5, if possible. If symptoms develop, they should get tested and stay home.
If exposed OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL, unvaccinated or unboosted individuals must quarantine.
- Boosted individuals or individuals in the first 6 months of Pfizer or Moderna series or within the first 2 months of a single Johnson & Johnson vaccine must wear a mask around others for 10 days and test on day 5, if possible. If symptoms develop, they must get tested and stay home.
- Individuals who have completed the primary series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over 6 months ago and are not boosted or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine 2 months ago and are not boosted, or those who are unvaccinated, must stay home for 5 days and then continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days and test on day 5, if possible. If symptoms develop, they should get tested and stay home.
- The difference between exposure expectations is due to the safety protocols we have in place in our schools.
In case of an outbreak or suspected outbreak in our schools (2-5 or more connected cases), there may be more widespread quarantines. In those cases, we will rely on Tri-County Health to determine our next steps, but often will result in longer quarantines that affect more individuals.
Again, we encourage vaccination for anyone age 5 and older. We also strongly encourage booster shots for anyone eligible. Vaccines remain our best protection for ourselves and our loved ones.
As always, the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing. While we know that this new variant poses challenges, we will continue to work together to overcome them. Thank you as always for your support and cooperation in keeping our students and staff members safe and learning.
Wendy Rubin, Ed.D.