March 14, 2020
Dear County Human Services Agencies and Community Partners,
Last week we provided Local Public Health Agencies with guidance that CDPHE developed to provide direction for school and child care closures. In an effort to coordinate public health and human service efforts, we are now sending the same guidance to you.
With many schools deciding to initiate spring break early or even potentially extend it many schools have or are closing absent the criteria described in this guidance. The guidance is on our website at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus.
We understand the desire to limit children and staff exposures and in many instances are encouraging the application of social distancing practices. That said, these school closures place additional burdens on families. In some instances child care operations are taking the school closures as a cue for them to also proactively close. We are not requesting or encouraging this approach. Instead we encourage child care settings apply the closure criteria outlined in the guidance and not proactively close as this creates a number of secondary concerns such as:
- Children being fed – access to meals
- Child protection issues - younger children unsupervised because parent(s) has to work
- Children/youth congregating in other sites
- Parent absenteeism from work in order to care for children
- Children with special needs can have more difficulty learning when returning to school after extended absence
- Availability of substitute teacher pool
- Setting and size of school/district
- Addressing fear and stigma associated with being sick
- Privacy concerns
Additionally, we are hearing about shortages of disinfectants. For schools and child care facilities that will be closed for a week or longer do not clean or disinfect right away and wait as the virus will not survive the closure period and do a singular cleaning and disinfection more closely aligned with the reopening date. Additionally, CDPHE is seeking guidance on other mechanisms of disinfection that could be implemented as a result of the supply issues with traditional disinfectants.
Thank you for your partnership during this challenging time.
Jeff Lawrence, Director
Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Mary Anne Snyder, Director
Office of Early Childhood
Colorado Department of Human Services