With the return of students to in-person learning for many local schools, officials at San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) urge parents to ensure that their children are practicing public health precautions for halting the spread of the virus in school settings and during out-of-school activities.

Since many local students have returned to in-person learning, SJBPH has recorded a rise in school-age cases, dismissal of learning cohorts, and school outbreaks. SJBPH is working with local school districts and independent schools to limit the spread of the disease by following disease control guidance and precautions provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

SJBPH officials emphasize that although Archuleta and La Plata counties are seeing fewer cases overall and fewer restrictions on the state’s COVID-19 Dial, it remains crucially important to remain vigilant in practicing public health precautions that have been proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

“We realize that children and teens have really suffered as a result of the pandemic and we are all experiencing a strong desire to return to our lives, including socializing with others,” said SJBPH executive director, Liane Jollon. “However, we need to stay strong and continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid social gatherings to maintain in-person learning and keep ourselves and others safe,” she added.

As warmer weather approaches, students may want to socialize in person more, especially for events such as spring break and graduation. SJBPH encourages parents to emphasize continued precautions with their children for in- and out-of-school activities.

These precautions include:

  • Wearing face masks in and out of school when interacting with others
  • Physically distancing at least 3 feet in school cohorts and at least 6 feet in out-of-school settings
  • Practicing good hygiene such as frequent and thorough hand washing
  • Avoiding nonessential indoor spaces and in-person gatherings with people outside of your household
  • Avoiding nonessential travel
  • Getting tested if you have symptoms, think you’ve been exposed, or work in a high-contact job

“We are so appreciative of what parents and students have done to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we know this past year has been really challenging,” noted Jollon. “However, we are not out of the woods yet. The pandemic is still dangerous, and lives are at stake. As younger individuals wait their turn to get vaccinated, public health precautions and testing are critical to save lives and get schools back to more and more in-person learning,” she added.

SJBPH will continue to work closely with school districts and independent schools to identify and contain outbreaks, minimize exposure to the virus in school settings, and promote safe school events as both counties’ positions on the state COVID-19 Dial evolve through the rest of the school year.

For more information on COVID-19 see: https://sjbpublichealth.org/coronavirus/.