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Defining COVID-19 outbreaks in schools
 
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By Source: Colorado Department of Public Health
News@lavozcolorado.com
 
08/05/2020

Definitions

Confirmed case: A case in a person who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus using certain laboratory tests (usually PCR).

Probable case: A case in a person who has COVID-like symptoms without another diagnosis. Public health will help assign the case a definition using the Colorado COVID-19 case and outbreak definitions.

School outbreak-associated case: a confirmed or probable case among students/teachers/staff that meet the outbreak definition should be classified as outbreak-associated. Family members or others outside the school who get sick should not be classified as outbreak-associated.

COVID-like symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of taste/smell, fatigue, headache, sore throat, muscle or body aches, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea. A person can be contagious two days before they start having symptoms (or two days before they test positive if they don’t have symptoms).

Isolation: staying home from work, school, and/or activities when a person is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19. Isolation lasts for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms, 24 hours fever-free without fever reducing medication, and an improvement of symptoms. For people who have not had symptoms, isolation lasts 10 days from the day they had their first positive test. In rare instances, (for example, if a person was very sick or has certain medical problems), isolation may last 20 days. Repeat testing is not recommended to decide when to end the period of isolation.

Quarantine: staying home from work, school, and/or activities when a person is a close contact of someone with COVID-19. Quarantine lasts for 14 days (unless the person develops symptoms, then they will be put in isolation). Negative testing does not release a person from quarantine.

Close contact: a person who:

was within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 (even if they did not have symptoms) for at least 15 minutes total.

provided care for someone who is sick with COVID-19.

had direct physical contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19.

shared eating or drinking utensils with someone who is sick with COVID-19.

got respiratory droplets from someone who is sick with COVID-19 on them (through sneezing, coughing, shouting, etc.).

was in the same class/cohort as a person with COVID-19.

Cohorting: the practice of keeping the same individuals in the same group at all times during the school day. Changes in cohorts are timed to align with school breaks. Cohorting helps limit the number of contacts each individual has. As a result, quarantines, dismissals, or school closures in the event of a student or staff member with COVID-19 affect fewer people. Students may be in multiple cohorts (for example, bus ride to school, after-school sports, classroom).

Social distancing: Maintaining at least 6 feet between each student, teacher, and staff member for as much of the school day as possible. During contact tracing, classroom contacts are considered exposed (and required to quarantine for 14 days), even if social distancing was practiced in the classroom. While 3 feet is an option within school cohorts/classrooms, 3 feet is not considered social distancing.

Confirmed outbreak definition

If one or more criteria below are met, there is a confirmed outbreak. Outbreak response will vary by criteria met. All confirmed outbreaks will be posted on the CDPHE website at covid19.colorado.gov/data/outbreak-data.

Classroom/cohort outbreak: Two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases among students/teachers/staff from separate households, with onset within 14 days in a single classroom or cohort. [Note: includes students, teachers, and other staff.]

School-wide outbreak:

In schools practicing cohorting, two or more classrooms or cohorts that meet the classroom/cohort outbreak definition (above) that occurs within 14 days

OR

In schools not practicing cohorting, two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases from separate households with onset within 14 days in the same school. [Note: Cases can includes student, teachers, and other staff]

OR

5 percent or more unrelated students/teachers/ staff have confirmed COVID-19 within a 14 day period [minimum of 10 unrelated students/staff]

Staff outbreak: Two or more teachers/staff with confirmed COVID-19 who are close contacts within the school setting, with onset within 14 days.

Suspected outbreak definition

If one or more criteria below are met, there is a suspected outbreak. Outbreak response will vary by criteria met. Suspected outbreaks are not currently posted to the website.

Classroom/cohort outbreak: One confirmed COVID-19 case and one or more probable cases among students/teachers/staff from separate households, with onset within 14 days in a single classroom or cohort. [Note: Cases can include student, teachers, and other staff.]

Single confirmed COVID-19 cases in two or more classrooms.

10 percent absenteeism (among expected in-person students/staff) in the whole school for any reason.

 

 

 

 

 
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