COLORADO, USA — It will likely be up to school districts to decide if kids will wear masks this upcoming school year. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued its guidance for schools and COVID-19 protocols this week.
The department recommends communities with higher rates of transmission and low vaccination rates take heightened COVID precautions like mask wearing, social distancing and regular COVID testing.
But none of it is required.
"I really hope they retain the mask mandate at a minimum," Jefferson County parent Kelly Boeckman said. "The Delta variant spreads so much easier to anything we even saw last year and particularly for elementary school students, no child is going to be vaccinated until it's eligible for children under 12."
According to the guidance from CDPHE, the following are considered high-risk communities:
- Communities with a vaccination rate under 70% for anyone 12 and over
- A school with a vaccination rate under 70% among staff and students 12 and older
- A community transmission rate is higher than 35 cases per 100,000 people over a seven day period.
Boeckman said she understood why there was no 'one size fits all' decision when it came to COVID-19 protocol requirements but she hoped the language would be stronger.
"Put children’s safety first, put staff and teachers safety first so they can have a good environment," she said. "If there aren’t masks and there’s widespread transmission it’s going to shut down classrooms and put a lot of kids, in quarantine, it's going to be a further risk for teachers and that is going to be more disruptive than simply asking everyone to wear a mask every day."
JeffCo Schools said they're still working on their safety protocols. Denver Public Schools as well as Boulder Valley School District also shared the same sentiment.
"It is of course up to individuals, families, and schools exactly how they integrate mask wearing, testing, and to promoting a safe school environment," Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) said.
"In different areas of the state there’s a different social license and a different balance in we really respect that local ability to implement the guidance that we've issued on a state level echoing the best science from the national level."
While CDPHE has recommendations for high risk communities, in their guidance it does state, fully vaccinated staff and students are not advised to wear masks unless they choose to.
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