As we shared previously, we continue to work closely with the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) to ensure that we have the most updated information and understanding of the evolving science and impact of COVID-19, including the Delta variant. Based on our most recent updates from TCHD, we are updating our health guidelines.
TCHD has advised APS that circumstances have changed over the past few weeks and that disruption to our in-person learning environment has become increasingly likely if APS does not add an additional mitigation layer to our layered approach. The choices are to either add a stricter mask mandate focused on students who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated or to implement strict quarantines for close contacts.
There would be significant and negative impacts if large groups of students were required to quarantine for 10 days. Thus, in order to maintain our learning environments and keep in-person learning in place as much as possible, we are implementing a mask mandate for schools that have a majority of students who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
Masks Required for Students at CDCs, Elementary and P/K-8 Schools
Starting on Monday, August 16, all students in APS child development centers, elementary and K/P-8 schools will be required to wear masks at school. Masks will remain strongly encouraged for all students at middle and high schools. All unvaccinated staff are required to wear masks while vaccinated staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks.
We recognize that some of you will be pleased with a stricter mask mandate while others may be upset. Please know that our focus remains on maintaining strong in-person learning environments as much as possible. We will continue to evaluate our layered approach and add or remove mitigation layers depending on current circumstances. We are asking everyone in our community to work together as we adapt to changing guidelines.
Quarantines Required for Higher-Risk Exposures (Athletics, Field Trips and After-School Band, Choir and Performing Arts)
In addition, TCHD has provided additional guidance that quarantines will be required for unvaccinated students and staff who are exposed to positive cases during higher-risk extracurricular activities. This includes all athletics, field trips, and after-school bands, choirs, and performing arts groups.
The most significant layer to prevent transmission of COVID-19 is for as many people in the APS community to receive COVID-19 vaccines as possible. As we shared with staff members during the last school year, once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine, all APS staff will be required to be vaccinated.
We are also strongly encouraging all students who are eligible (ages 12 and up) to get vaccinated. Vaccines must be proven to be safe and effective before they are administered to the general public. After examining clinical trial data, the FDA found that three vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19 disease: Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 years and older and authorized Moderna and Janssen for those 18 years and older. For more information about receiving your FREE vaccine at an upcoming APS vaccine clinic, please visit: aurorak12.org/vaccine. Please know that you do not need to be a U.S. citizen to receive a vaccine and you are not required to provide proof of identification.
Free and Regular COVID-19 Testing
As always, we encourage all APS staff to get tested for COVID-19 regularly through COVIDCheck Colorado. Free testing is also available for students and families. If you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms, please get tested. Also, if you or a family member are feeling unwell, stay home.
Once again, public health guidance may change quickly and frequently depending on circumstances throughout the school year, so please be assured that we will share any updated information with you as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your continued flexibility, understanding, and support.