More than twice as many students tied to the outbreak in Colorado K-12 schools have COVID-19 as they did at the worst point of the pandemic in early December, but it’s unlikely that families turned to online learning last year. But see the escape.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment reported 156 outbreaks in schools as of Wednesday afternoon, with 250 staff members and 1,900 students listed as infected. Schools are not required to report outbreaks if they have five or fewer cases, or if there is no clear link to those cases, such as a shared classroom, extracurricular activity, or bus route.
At its peak in early December, the outbreak occurred in 211 schools, affecting 387 staff members and 863 students. At the time, vaccines were not yet available to teachers or older students, but fewer school districts had individual classes than now, and the wearing of masks was required by the state.
Children and adolescents accounted for about 26% of COVID-19 cases in Colorado in the second week of September (the last week with complete data), but few become seriously ill. The state reported that 14 people below the age of 18 had been hospitalized for COVID-19 till Tuesday.
Schools transitioning to online learning did so largely because they had too many staff to manage classes, rather than because too many students were infected.
Now, the state does not require employees who are fully vaccinated after exposure to be vaccinated if they are not showing symptoms. However, a handful of schools have temporarily returned to distance learning since classes resumed in August.
Most school outbreaks involved 10 or fewer people, but 18 schools had outbreaks that infected 30 or more students and staff members.
The biggest outbreaks were:
- Loveland High School, Thompson R2-J School District: 46 student cases, three staff cases
- Grand Mesa Middle School, Mesa County Valley School District 51: 48 students
- university schools, Greeley-Evans School District 6: 39 students, six employees
- Douglas County High School, Douglas County School District: 35 students, seven employees
- Power Technical Early College, Falcon District 49: 35 students, seven employees
- Mesa Middle School, DCSD: 35 students, four employees
- Northridge High School, Greeley-Evans: 37 students, two employees
- Eagle Valley High School, Eagle County School: 37 students
- Mountain View High School, Thompson: 34 students, one employee
- Resurrection Christian Middle / High School: 24 students, 10 employees
- Vista Ridge High School, District 49: 31 students, three employees
The number of overall outbreaks also increased this week, with changes in single digits for most settings tracked by the state health department. However, there has been an increase of 13 in the number of long-term care facilities reporting active outbreaks.
As of Wednesday, 53 assisted living facilities and 73 nursing homes reported COVID-19 clusters. Long-term care facilities have to report an outbreak and begin taking extra precautions after only two cases, as they serve populations at high risk of serious illness.
Active outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have infected 355 residents and 419 staff members. Fourteen residents have died in the current outbreak.