The Arizona Department of Health Services issued an emergency measure Aug. 24 requiring schools, child care centers and shelters to report outbreaks of COVID-19 to local health officials, according to a news release from ADHS.

The measure applies to public schools, charter schools and private schools with students from kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as to child care establishments and shelters, according to the news release. Those facilities already are required to report to their local health departments cases of communicable diseases, including mumps, measles and chickenpox, according to the release.

“Schools, child care centers, and shelters have always worked with public health and have been among the best reporters of communicable disease information,” ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said in the release. “This emergency measure addresses the serious threat COVID-19 poses to our communities and allows public health and our schools to work together to keep our kids safe.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services is defining an outbreak as two or more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period among individuals who are epidemiologically linked, do not share a household and are not close contacts of each other in another setting.

“Procedures on how to report and handle cases of COVID-19 will help schools as they navigate this most unprecedented school year,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in a news release. “This emergency measure gives schools the instructions they need to correctly report cases as we head further into the new academic year.”

This emergency measure provides schools, child care establishments and shelters with a required format and the authority for reporting COVID-19 outbreaks to public health within 24 hours of identification, according to the news release.