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Vote on school masks delayed by Tri-County Board of Health

More than 2,000 people signed up for public comment with more than 10,000 people submitting written comments about how the county should handle a mask mandate.

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — After 90 minutes of public comment and nearly two hours in executive session, the Tri-County Board of Health (TCHD) delayed the vote until Tuesday afternoon on whether to mandate masks in schools.

"If wearing a mask at school keeps my kids in school, I am all for it," said James Poplawski, a parent. 

The TCHD is considering a public health order that would require children under 12 to wear masks in all schools in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties which is home to 15 different public school districts and numerous private schools.

"I’m just here to state that this is just a means to control us and to keep us in fear," said Linda Bissett, a grandmother of students. "This is America. We do not walk in fear and we are not going to bow down to tyranny."

The move comes after individual school districts within TCHD's jurisdiction, including Cherry Creek and Adams 12 Five Star Schools, announced their own mask requirements for younger students.

"Some have wondered if masking interferes with social development," said Marissa Scheel, a parent. "There is no evidence this is a significant impairment. Children are very adaptable."

TCHD said more than 2,000 people signed up for public comment and more than 10,000 people submitted written comments including statistics, opinions and tragedy.

"Pre-pandemic, my child was happy, well-adjusted and had a 4.0 and was on the dean’s list," said Robin Webb, a parent. "She went from that to contemplating suicide and masks contributed greatly."

The TCHD met with its attorney in executive session for nearly two hours to discuss options. Although Douglas County is part of Tri-County Health, contractually, it can opt-out of public health orders. 

The board reconvenes and votes at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"We have certainly heard a diversity of points of views, opinions," said Kaia Gallagher, board of health member. "I am sorry for those who wanted to speak and did not have time."