As schools across Colorado prepare for a school year like no other, protection for teachers against COVID-19 is expanding.
Gary Community Investments’ COVIDCheck Colorado is opening five new sites along the Front Range for “teachers and school district staff to get tested for COVID-19 prior to the start of the school year.” This testing will be free and open for employees from Aurora Public Schools, Cherry Creek School District, Denver Public Schools, Englewood Schools, Mapleton Public Schools, Sheridan School District 2, Westminster Public Schools and 27J Schools this week.
Sites opening on Tuesday are Hinkley High School in Aurora, Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, North High School in Denver and Riverdale Ridge High School in Thornton. On Wednesday, employees will have access to testing at All City Stadium near South High School in Denver.
COVIDCheck Colorado, a “social benefit enterprise” of Gary Community Investments, serves as a “philanthropic health consortium whose mission is to help Coloradans navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to their community safely.”
The program is working to aid reopening strategies by providing access to COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and tools to support public health departments’ contact tracing efforts as a “way to help Coloradans safely return to school, work and daily life.”
Any employees from the selected districts will be able to schedule a diagnostic test every two weeks at any of the selected locations regardless of district affiliation. Any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 will receive a call from a telehealth provider who will offer support and guidance of self-isolation.
“As required by law, all positive cases will be reported to local public health agencies and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,” a release said. “Those who have been exposed to the virus will be notified in accordance with the state’s contact tracing protocol and health privacy practices.”
Along with regular testing, district employees will be given access to a mobile-friendly website to track symptoms.
This preemptive testing and symptom tracking comes as schools across the country begin to reopen, with some making national news. The most notable example of this reopening comes from North Paulding High School in Georgia, who saw a nine-person outbreak after reopening, forcing the school to "temporarily” switch to virtual learning for two days while its facilities were disinfected.
“This comprehensive approach to testing and symptom tracking aims to provide district leaders with timely information on the prevalence of COVID-19 within their school communities to help them make informed decisions on how to reopen safely and stop potential outbreaks before they start,” the release states.
Colorado currently stands at over 51,000 positive COVID-19 cases, with over 10% of those cases being children and teenagers.