Denver, Boulder and other Colorado cities have seen a spike in coronavirus cases, which have been linked to student gatherings, public health officials said.
University of Colorado Boulder has seen the largest spike in cases; however outbreaks have also been reported at Regis University, Metro State University and the University of Denver.
Requirements under Denver’s new order:
- Colleges must conduct daily health screenings of students, faculty, staff, vendors and anyone else who enters the campus. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms will be restricted from accessing any building (other than their place of residence or to seek medical attention), as well as any practice or athletic event.
- The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment must be notified within 24 hours of any confirmed case.
- Colleges must increase efforts to ensure everyone on campus is adhering to Denver’s face covering order.
- All athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, medical personnel and anyone else attending indoor and outdoor athletic activities — including practices and games — must wear face coverings. Exception: outdoor athletic activities in which participants strictly adhere to social distancing requirements. Anyone who is traveling for athletic activities (aka. in a vehicle) must also wear a mask.
- If there is any COVID-19 case on an athletic team, the college must notify the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment and suspend all sports programming for that team until further notice. Health officials will determine whether quarantine or isolation is required.
- All colleges are required to develop and implement a public health order compliance plan by Sept. 30. The plan must involve campus security, campus police and other resources to ensure that students — on or off campus — are adhering to the order.
- Visitor access to on-campus housing must be restricted — only students who live in the housing and essential personnel are permitted in the buildings.
- Colleges must take any actions available — such as the enforcement of student ethics code violations — against any student, faculty or staff member who fails to comply with any COVID-19 public health order or school policy.
The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment recommends that all colleges voluntarily suspend all nonessential in-person extracurricular social activities.
If the new order is not successful in reducing the spread of COVID-19, the agency said it “will consider additional preventive actions, including quarantine and isolation orders, requiring virtual classes, and imposing a Stay at Home Order.”
Bob McDonald, the agency’s executive director, said he acknowledges that universities already follow many of the new order’s precautions. He said the new requirements are necessary to stop students from attending large gatherings.
“A little bit of non-compliance goes a long way,” McDonald said during a news conference with Mayor Michael Hancock on Thursday.
The order for athletes to wear masks does not apply to high school students, public health officials said.
“The risk of continuing to spread this deadly virus is real and made even more evident by the abrupt spike in cases on and near college campuses,” the mayor said.
“We are committed to working with institutes of higher learning to help reduce this risk, but if these measures are not successful, we will not hesitate to look at other options.”