Update on DCSD COVID Protocols for 2021-22

Update on DCSD COVID Protocols for 2021-22
Posted on 08/06/2021

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August 6, 2021

Dear DCSD Families and Staff,

We are excited to begin the 2021-2022 school year, and we look forward to welcoming students back to school the week of August 9! There is truly nothing better than seeing our students who are eager to learn and grow. Back to school time signals a new beginning -- and 2021-2022 will be one of the best years yet!

We believe that what our students need most right now is a return to school with as much consistency and normalcy as possible within a safe environment. And that is a big reason we have developed layered COVID protocols for the coming school year, in collaboration and in accordance with the Tri-County Health Department and their recommendations.

Recently, the Delta Variant has proven to be very contagious. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) updated their recommendations regarding face coverings.

In alignment with this guidance, DCSD is:

  • "Recommending that all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask in indoor public places, including teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools.”

  • In addition, DCSD is requiring its student-facing staff who are not fully vaccinated to wear a face covering while indoors.

Schools will work with families to accommodate their students’ needs and comfort levels so that every student has an enjoyable and safe learning environment. Behavior such as “mask shaming”, “bullying”, and “intimidation or harassment” will not be tolerated.

  • Per the Tri-County Health Department:
    "Like much of the guidance released by the CDC, CDPHE, and TCHD, for the 2021-2022 school year, at this point, universal masking should be understood not as a requirement but as a strong science-based recommendation.”

We continue to have regular conversations with the Tri-County Health Department. Currently, they remain supportive of our layered approach to COVID mitigation. One factor in this decision is the fact that vaccination rates in Douglas County remain strong.

Douglas County Vaccination Rates

 

Eligible Population

Ages 16-17

Ages 12-15

Overall Vaccination Rate
(percent of eligible population that has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine)

73.1%

65.86%

53.28%

Completed Vaccination Rate
(percent of eligible population that is fully vaccinated)

68.3%

60.26%

45.06%

Source: Tri-County Health Department

Our own data tells us this is appropriate for DCSD and that our layered health strategies work. Thousands of students in preschool through grade 12 attended DCSD summer learning programs, extended school year programs, as well as BASE in June and July. Face coverings were not required for students age 11 and under, for vaccinated students 12 and older, or for vaccinated staff. We are happy to say that during that time, only a small number of positive COVID cases were reported in our schools, and we believe that is due to our layered approach.

We are asking state and local health officials for specific data that would result in universal masking becoming a public health order. Should public health orders become more restrictive or if our community and/or our schools experience a concerning increase in COVID cases, we will be ready to make adjustments to our approach. We ask for your continued partnership, patience, and flexibility as we do our very best to balance a return to a more normal schedule with keeping our students and employees healthy. We will continue to work closely with local health officials throughout the fall.


Face Coverings Required on School Buses

Face coverings must be worn by all staff and students (regardless of vaccination status) on DCSD school buses in alignment with a federal CDC mandate which is currently still in place.

DCSD will also continue with the following layered approach to COVID mitigation:

  • Implementing physical distancing where possible.

  • Encouraging frequent hand washing and providing access to hand sanitation stations.

  • Continuing with increased ventilation in buildings.

  • Disinfecting frequently.

  • Encouraging outdoor learning and activities where possible.

In addition:

  • Students or staff members who test positive for COVID will be required to isolate in alignment with past COVID practices.

  • Our partners at Tri-County Health Department will continue contact tracing positive cases and advise on next steps when an exposure occurs.

  • Families with a child who may have been exposed to COVID, as well as staff who may have been exposed and are identified as a close contact with a person who has tested positive will be notified via email by their school so they may monitor their children for symptoms and access a COVID test if desired.

  • Visitors will be welcome in our schools this year, however, in alignment with our protocols above, we recommend that visitors, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering. In addition, visitors who are showing any symptoms of illness should refrain from entering DCSD schools and other facilities.

It is critical to note that the protocols listed above will not be most effective without the partnerships of our families and staff. Please continue to do your part by keeping students home, and/or staying home yourself, when showing symptoms of illness. Please reference this symptom screening document for guidance on when it is safe to return to school after illness.


Vaccinations

DCSD is recommending but not mandating COVID vaccinations for eligible students and staff. This is one of the most effective ways to avoid becoming ill with COVID and missing valuable learning time. We will continue to provide our families with information about upcoming vaccination clinics in our community.

Additional information about DCSD’s COVID Health and Safety Measures can be found on the Looking Forward section of our website. If you have any questions or feedback about the protocols outlined above, please email LookingForward@dcsdk12.org.

It will be a great school year, and we are eager to get started!

Corey Wise
Superintendent
Douglas County School District

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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, complianceofficer@dcsdk12.org, 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.