PSD Contact Tracing and Investigations

    PSD COVID-19 Response Teams and Larimer County work together 

    During the second semester, PSD is approaching contact tracing by grade level. Each PSD department and school has a COVID-19 Response Team and works in partnership with the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. Every COVID-19 case investigation is unique and may require slightly varied responses.

    • Enhanced contact tracing: Rather than investigating and identifying close contacts, all students in a classroom will shift to remote education for 10 days to prevent the possible spread of the virus. Staff members (homeroom teachers, paraprofessionals, etc.) identified as close contacts will also shift remote; those staff who didn't have close contact aren't shifted remote. All may return to school/work once cleared to do so. LCDHE will issue 10-day quarantine orders to students and any staff identified as close contacts. This is a change between first and second semester. 
    • Targeted contact tracing: PSD COVID-19 Response Teams investigate and identify possible close contacts (zero to X number); LCDHE issues orders to quarantine. Contact tracing happens in a classroom but also extends into lunchrooms, buses, athletics and other school-specific spaces.


    Contact tracing by grade level

    Preschool and elementary follow enhanced contact tracing 

    • Why change from targeted to enhanced contact tracing between first and second semester? We do not believe PSD preschool/elementary COVID-19 Response Teams would be able to balance the significant workload of targeted contact tracing and keep our youngest learners in school all day, every day. 

    • Although we recognize the remote shift is disruptive, this approach reduces case response work and allows staff to have the time to consistently deliver full-time in-person education.

    • LCDHE will issue quarantine orders to students and staff identified as close contacts. 

    Middle and high schools follow targeted contact tracing 

    • Targeted contact tracing in secondary schools second semester looks like it did first semester.  

    • School COVID-19 Response Teams identify recommended possible close contacts of the infected individual and shift those people to remote teaching/learning for an initial assessment period with LCDHE. 

    • By end of day four, LCDHE confirms close contacts and issues quarantine orders (quarantine date may vary by person depending on exposure date to the positive individual). 

    • We believe targeted tracing is less disruptive and more sustainable at the secondary level. Enhanced tracing is thought to be more difficult for secondary teachers to manage, who engage with multiple classes in a day, compared with an elementary homeroom teacher who interacts with one. 

    Temporary school closures: From Jan. 19 and until otherwise specified, PSD leadership and Health Services staff will discuss with principals whether a temporary school closure is necessary when a school’s case percentage goes above 1%, as displayed on PSD’s data dashboard. Families should be prepared that their student’s school may be affected by this new change and that they may receive little notice before a temporary closure occurs. 


    Contact tracing background 

    What is contact tracing?                                                   

    Disease investigations are an important way that public health officials can help prevent the spread of disease in a community. When someone tests positive for a reportable condition, such as COVID-19, that test result is reported to state or local public health officials. Local public health staff receive that report and work with the patient to identify any close contacts (those who were within six feet for more than 15 minutes with a case) who may have been exposed to the disease and could become ill. This process is known as contact tracing. Learn more on the LCDHE website >> 

    Public health staff then notify exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible. Contacts are provided with education, information and support to:

    • Understand their risk and monitor themselves for illness
    • Separate themselves from others who have not been exposed.
    • Understand they could spread the infection to others even if they do not feel ill.  ​​​​​​


      Who is a close contact?  Health and Safety Flier image - information is in the text.

      • Less than six feet for more than 15 minutes  
      • Maintaining six feet or more of distance is not always possible within some PSD schools due to space constraints that are difficult to reconcile with educating more students more of the time. 
      • Recognizing this challenge, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment allows schools to seat students between three to six feet apart. 
      • PSD will maximize social distancing whenever possible, with a goal of at least six feet. 
      • The graphics in the flier to the right indicate generally which students may be identified as possible close contacts, depending on the size and set-up of the classroom. 


      LCDHE, PSD and confidentiality

      •  Answer the call: It’s imperative that families, students and staff answer the health department’s call and share timely, accurate information to help minimize outbreaks in our community. LCDHE and PSD maintain confidentiality.  
      • Sharing student information with LCDHE for contact tracing investigations: PSD may need to share some student information requested by LCDHE staff completing contact tracing investigations that includes but isn't limited to parent/guardian name, parent/guardian phone number(s), student name, student grade, student school of attendance, and student date of birth. PSD will never share parent/guardian or student social security numbers. All disclosures are made in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. 
        • District Policy JRA/JRC - Student Records / Release of Information on Students states PSD may disclose student education records or personally identifiable information without written consent of the parent/guardian or eligible students under several circumstances, including if the disclosure is in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of the information disclosed is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons. 
        • Additionally, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “Schools are required to disclose names of people with COVID-19 to public health authorities. Schools should not disclose the name(s) of students, teachers or staff members with COVID-19 to other teachers, staff, students, parents, the media, or anyone outside public health. Public health staff are trained in how to manage health information in order to protect your privacy. They will never share your information without your permission, and they store records securely and keep them safe.” 
        • The district continues to train and build the capacity of school and department COVID-19 Response Teams. We work collectively to provide only the necessary information to support a contact tracing investigation, which includes parent/guardian contact information and the student information listed above. The health department uses this information to issue quarantine orders to those individuals identified as close contacts, as a result of the investigation. LCDHE quarantine orders are always issued in the name of either the confirmed case or identified close contacts. They are not issued in someone else’s name (even if they are a minor) because they apply only to the directly impacted individual. 


      Communications and data transparency

      •  Evaluating on a case-by-case basis, PSD works with LCDHE to communicate important information to targeted staff and/or parents and guardians (i.e. LCDHE directly notifies people if they are identified as close contacts and need to quarantine). Case communications will not be sent to the entire school community each time; instead, we will work to communicate directly with impacted groups.
      • PSD and LCDHE staff keep the identity of students and staff who test positive for or are believed to be exposed to COVID-19 confidential. 

      Contact Information