AURORA | Aurora Public Schools will require teachers to be vaccinated for the fall school year and “strongly recommends” that all students who are eligible do the same, according to new guidelines for the upcoming year.
The district released the guidelines Friday afternoon on its website in a message from Superintendent Rico Munn.
APS will use a “layered approach” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, according to the guidelines, but will not have all the same requirements in place as it did last year.
The district put together its plan in accordance with guidance from the Tri-County Health Department, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the message said.
Samantha Decker, a member of Tri-County’s school support team, told the Sentinel that the district sent over its message to TCHD and the department provided feedback.
Once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently under an emergency use authorization, all staff will be required to be vaccinated unless they have medical exemptions.
Staff who are not vaccinated will be required to wear masks in school, those who are vaccinated will not, the message said. Students who are not vaccinated will not be required to wear masks, but the district strongly recommends that they do so. All students and staff will be required to wear masks on school buses regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC recommends that all unvaccinated individuals over the age of two wear a mask in school settings. On Tuesday, it released a new recommendation saying that fully vaccinated people in parts of the country where case rates are high may want to resume wear masks indoors. District spokesperson Corey Christiansen told the Sentinel APS does not plan to make any changes at this time.
“Our health measures are in accordance with guidance from the Tri-County Health Department,” he said in an email.
APS will screen students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms at the beginning of each day. Students with specific COVID-like symptoms will be referred to the school’s healthcare staff for further assessment, the message said.
Any student or staff member who tests positive for the virus will be required to isolate for 10 days before returning to school. Unlike last year, APS will not require those who were around an infected individual to quarantine, and will not be notifying school communities about positive cases. The district will have a COVID-19 tracker on its website.
The message notes that guidelines could change throughout the school year.
“As we monitor evolving guidance from our public health partners, we may need to update or change these plans to increase mitigation measures,” Munn said. “For example, there may be the need to add a student mask mandate at some point during the year.”
Aurora Education Association President Linnaea Reed-Ellis said that the union supports the district’s layered approach and is excited to being back in person with students.
“We support the safest and healthiest in-person learning environment,” she said.
The school year begins on August 12. The neighboring Cherry Creek School District has not yet released its own guidance, district spokesperson Abbe Smith said it plans to send that out next week.