Schools should consider requiring face masks for unvaccinated children and adults or all children and adults, particularly in higher-risk environments, according to updated restrictions from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that took effect Sunday.
The change comes in response to last week’s new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying the COVID-19 delta variant is spreading quickly nationwide and needs to be curtailed through increased vaccination and a return to stricter prevention measures.
The CDC now recommends universal indoor face masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
The information comes as schools prepare to reopen in the coming weeks for the fall semester.
Masks will not only help slow the transmission but also “avoid school closures,” state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said in a news release.
The Food and Drug Administration has not yet cleared a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for children younger than 12 years old.
A recommendation for adults and children 12 years old and older to wear face masks in public, practice social distancing of 6 feet and take extra sanitizing procedures also became activated Sunday, under Gov. Jared Polis’ updated state public health orders.
Mandates include limiting the number of visitors and non-essential employees in skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities and assisted-living residences. Revisions also require hospitals to report bed capacity statistics to the state.
Statewide, 62% of the eligible population is vaccinated; in El Paso County it’s 53.7%, according to state data.
As of Friday, 575,082 Coloradans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 32,859 have been hospitalized and 7,208 have died from the virus.
Hospitalizations and transmissions have “leveled off,” according to the updated state order.
The revised state guidance extends to Sept. 1.