Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with your family and friends. We are excited to start the second semester and see our students back in school after Winter Break.
As I shared in the message we sent you last week, we continue to closely monitor the Omicron variant and will make necessary changes as quickly as possible. Due to increased community transmission, we are prepared to adjust quickly and recognize that we will likely face staffing shortages. With more staff members testing positive for COVID-19 and needing to isolate at home, we may need to transition certain classrooms or schools to remote learning. In addition, we ask for your patience if bus routes are delayed or cancelled. Please know that we are committed to providing as much in-person learning as possible. However, we will certainly face challenges over the coming weeks and may need to make changes quickly.
One change we are planning to make within the coming week is to our quarantine and isolation periods. As you may have read in media reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently shortened their recommended isolation and quarantine for the general public from 10 days to 5 days. As APS has done since the start of the pandemic, we will continue to follow Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) guidance. APS has been working with TCHD to review this guidance and apply it to our district.
We are also asking for your partnership and support in the key areas below. Please read through this message thoroughly and talk with your children about these critical health and safety measures.
WEARING MASKS CONSISTENTLY IN SCHOOLS
APS will continue to require masks in all schools. This mandate requires that all students and staff members inside any school building serving grades P-12 consistently wear masks. This includes Pickens Technical College. In addition, all APS staff and visitors at ALL district sites are also required to wear masks while at work.
Students who refuse to properly wear their masks may face disciplinary action. Please encourage your students to wear their masks properly (covering both their noses and mouths) while at school.
UPDATES FOR FEB. 7, 2022:
Masks Strongly Encouraged in Schools and Sites
We will no longer require masking for all students and staff. However, we will continue to strongly encourage students and staff to wear masks at school.
Athletes and those participating in after-school activities will also no longer be required to wear masks. However, masks will continue to be strongly encouraged.
Masks Required on School Buses and at School Bus Stops
Please note that all students and staff will be required to wear masks on school buses regardless of vaccination status. This is in accordance with a federal mandate requiring face masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs.
SIGN UP FOR YOUR VACCINE AND BOOSTER DOSES
Vaccination provides the most significant protection against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection from COVID-19. Vaccines are available for individuals ages 5 and older. We have partnered with STRIDE Community Health Clinic and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) to host ongoing FREE vaccination clinics for our families.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded emergency use authorization for Pfizer's vaccine boosters to children ages 12-15. This means that if your student is 12 years or older and received the Pfizer vaccine more than five months ago, they will likely soon be eligible for a booster dose. Currently, all individuals 16 years or older who received their vaccines more than six months ago are eligible for booster doses. Booster doses are available at our vaccination clinics. To learn more and to sign up, visit aurorak12.org/vaccine.
Please note that any unvaccinated staff will be required to follow the health requirements outlined in their accommodation plans.
STAY HOME IF YOU DEVELOP SYMPTOMS
Any student or staff member (regardless of vaccination status) who shows COVID-like illness should stay home. We ask parents and guardians to let school staff know that your student is symptomatic by calling your school’s attendance line. APS staff members should notify their supervisors and stay home from work.
Major symptoms include:
- New or unexplained persistent cough
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Loss of taste and smell
Minor symptoms include:
- Feeling Feverish, having chills or a temperature of 100.0 or greater
- Sore Throat
- Runny nose or congestion
- Muscle or body aches
Please note that any student or staff member who has major symptoms that last longer than 24 hours or minor symptoms that last more than 48 hours, will be required to provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or isolate at home for 10 days before they can return to school.
GET TESTED REGULARLY
We encourage those who are symptomatic or who have recently been exposed to get tested for COVID-19. Testing is FREE and available for students and staff through COVIDCheck Colorado.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA RESPONSIBLY
On a different, yet equally important note, I want to remind our community about the importance of using social media responsibly.
We take all threats to the safety of our students and staff seriously. Unfortunately, misinformation about violence and threats is easily spread across social media platforms, which can cause undue alarm.
These concerns, real or perceived, can negatively impact the mental health of our students, staff and families. This can disrupt the learning environment and cause some parents to keep their students at home, losing valuable learning time. In the event of a safety concern, we ask that you and your students note the information below.
Do not share (or re-share) safety concerns via social media. Doing so can spark rumors and create widespread panic. Instead, please report safety concerns to your school, the police or anonymously via Safe2Tell so actions can be taken to resolve them. APS will communicate information about violence and threats to our students and staff directly to the community. We partner with the Aurora Police Department and our APS Security team to investigate concerns.
Please do not rely on social media as your resource for district-related information, unless it is a post from official APS accounts.
Any student responsible for posting a threat – even if the threat is intended as a “prank” – will face serious disciplinary consequences, including the possibility of suspension or expulsion. They may also face legal charges.
Responsible use of social media will help us pinpoint true safety concerns and provide families with accurate information. Please talk with your children about appropriate social media usage and share the risks and dangers of misuse.
As we return to school, I want to thank you for your continued flexibility and patience as we work to ensure the success and wellbeing of the APS community. The health and safety of our students and staff will always be our top priority.
- Superintendent Rico Munn