DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The newly formed Douglas County Board of Health approved a public health order on Friday that allows parents to give their kids exemptions from wearing masks in any setting that requires them unless superseded by a state or federal mandate.
The public health order allows a parent or guardian to have their child exempted from a mask mandate by writing and signing a request for exemption "due to the negative impact of that individual's physical and/or mental health."
The board also amended the public health order so that it also includes adults, as well.
The Douglas County School District currently requires masks for all students and staff regardless of vaccination status, but allows medical or mental health exemptions only with a written note from a healthcare provider.
According to the order, the county health department will seek "voluntary compliance" but may enforce it by any "appropriate legal means", which could include a court order. On Friday, a spokesperson for the school district said leadership is reviewing the public health order.
A majority of people who attended the meeting on Friday were in favor of the board's vote.
The order also says that no child in the county can be required to quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure unless the exposure is associated with an outbreak.
Last month, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted for the county to leave the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) and establish its own health department over a dispute on public health orders for COVID-19.
TCHD put in place a mask mandate for young students in schools in August. TCHD initially had an opt-out provision but rescinded that order and replaced it with one that doesn't have an opt-out provision.
That move came after both Douglas County and Adams County chose to opt out. Arapahoe County had a vote on the issue scheduled.
Late last month, TCHD and Douglas County reached an agreement in which TCHD will continue to provide core services in the county through the end of 2022.
Douglas County joined TCHD in 1966 and made a prior commitment to remain part of the agency through Dec. 31, 2022. More than a year ago in July 2020, there were talks about splitting with the department after health orders were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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