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Adams 12 school district reverses course on mask policy for students

Parents have been petitioning the district to require masks in school.

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — Adams 12 Five Star Schools sent a letter home to parents outlining a change in its mask policy for students. Kids from pre-school through sixth grade will now have to wear a mask in class.

"The Broomfield Department of Public Health issued a public health order today requiring children aged 2-11 wear masks indoors while in school and child care settings, and we understand that the governing board for Tri-County Public Health plans to consider a similar order at a meeting on Monday," Chris Gdowski, Superintendent, wrote in a letter sent to parents late Friday afternoon.

Tri-County Public Health oversees Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties which contain 15 different public school districts including Douglas County, Cherry Creek, and Aurora.

"Adams 12 Five Star Schools will require all students in preschool through sixth grade to wear masks indoors, regardless of what county the school is located in," Gdowski wrote in the letter.

The change is welcome news for Wayne McCulloch and other parents who have signed an online petition urging Adams 12 and Gdowski to require masks in school.

"The thing that worries us the most is we're talking about a group of people that can't be vaccinated yet," McCulloch said.

McCulloch has two young children with his oldest getting ready to attend kindergarten at Thunder Vista P-8 School in Broomfield starting next week. He was worried when the initial plan from Adams 12 was to recommend but not require masks for students who were not eligible for the COVID vaccines.

"When we got news that they weren’t having a mask mandate this year for the children, we were definitely taken aback," McCulloch said. "Why would you do something that worked so well last year and then throw that out to do something different this year didn’t make a lot of sense to us."

Denver and Boulder Counties already issued public health orders requiring masks for students. Jefferson County does not have a public health order, but Jefferson County Public Schools will require masks for students ages 3-to-11 anyway.

"We're not here to say it's our way or the highway. That's not the right approach," McCulloch said. "The right approach is how can we accommodate the different needs of these two different camps inside the school?"

McCulloch said no matter what people believe about masks, everyone wants students to have the option of in-person learning.

"Our students have missed out on so much the past two school years because of this pandemic.  My hope is that we all join together to send them into this school year with love, support and encouragement," Gdowski wrote in the letter.

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