As vaccination rates rise in Colorado counties, the state updated its public health order on Thursday, removing mask requirements for school staff and students
Under this new state order, face coverings are no longer required for unvaccinated people 12 years of age and older in schools. This means that school districts and other childcare environments – including summer camps and daycares – are now able to change their policies regarding masks.
On Tuesday, just two days before the state revised its health ordinance, schools in Eagle County sent a letter to parents and staff detailing his return to a regular school year.. Among other details, this letter included the removal of face covering requirements for students and staff.
The letter stated that anyone still wishing to wear a mask will be covered, but masks will not be required in educational spaces or activities. The letter said masks may still be required on school buses, but the district will make a decision closer to the start of the school year.
A parent group in Eagle County lobbied for that mandate to be lifted at the last two regular Education Council meetings, on May 26 and June 23. This group claimed that mask and social distancing requirements in schools were detrimental to students. physical and mental health.
Aside from lifting the mask requirement, the local district explained how schools would return to “pre-pandemic normal” in its letter. This includes the return of:
- Five days of in-person instruction per week, with a late start on Wednesday
- No physical distancing requirement
- Full sports and activity schedules
- Field trips, including out-of-state travel
- Visitors will be allowed in schools
- No hybrid schedules
- Regular courses with choices, specials and supports
The district will still offer distance learning through the World Academy for students and families who preferred it this year.
Additionally, the district will not require staff students to be vaccinated, which has been an important topic of discussion for parents who have spoken out at board meetings.
“Decisions about health, values, faith, sports and education rest solely on the shoulders of parents,” Eagle County parent Heather Bergquist said at the June 23 school board meeting. . “The schools in Eagle County are paid from our wallets to do one thing; and that is educating our children. We are not asking you to co-parent with us or make medical decisions for our children. “
The school district will continue to apply some of the sanitation and cleanliness factors implemented this past school year. This includes increased sanitation and disinfection protocols in schools and buses as well as higher levels of exterior traffic in school HVAC systems.
The letter notes that the return-to-normal protocols are based on current data. This data is largely related to vaccination rates in the county and statewide. Almost 70% of eligible Coloradans have now been vaccinated with one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. In Eagle County, just over 75% of the eligible population has reached the same threshold.
Going forward, the district will continue to listen to local and state public health regulations and advice as the pandemic situation continues to evolve.
“We are counting on collaboration to keep the district moving in a positive direction,” Superintendent Philip Qualman wrote in the letter.
Journalist Ali Longwell can be reached at [email protected]