DENVER — Face masks are no longer required in Denver Public Schools (DPS) starting Monday.
According to DPS' new guidance, masks will no longer be required on Monday, Feb. 28 but will be strongly recommended for all students, staff, and visitors across DPS.
DPS updated its masking guidance on Feb. 9 after the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) announced that its public health order requiring masks in schools would expire at the end of the day on Friday, Feb. 25.
DPS said its health partners made the masking decision based on high rates of immunity and lower rates of severe disease.
"We are so thankful to our community for their partnership in following the guidance of our health partners throughout the pandemic," said DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero. "We continue to work closely with DDPHE and Denver Health and to be guided by their expertise. And we will continue to strongly encourage the use of masks in our schools. This DDPHE decision to end the public health order on Feb. 25 is based on high rates of immunity in our community and lower rates of severe disease."
Most Americans now live in places where healthy people, including students in schools, can safely take a break from wearing masks under new U.S. guidelines released Friday.
The CDC said masks are no longer necessary on buses or vans that are operated by public or private school systems. That includes early care and child care programs.
However, DPS said it would still require masks aboard public transportation to be in alignment with federal law.
DPS said starting Monday, visitors, volunteers and families are permitted at schools and in school buildings. Athletic events, student performances, competitions and school events (such as graduation and school dances) can operate at full capacity, as permitted by the size of the venue, and without further health-related restrictions.
Student meal times will also resume normal operations and all in-person meetings can return to full capacity, and virtual platforms can continue to be used for meetings as appropriate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined the new set of measures for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals.
The new system greatly changes the look of the CDC's risk map and puts more than 70% of the U.S. population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals.
"Coming out of Omicron, we're now at a different phase of the pandemic," said Dr. Steven Federico, Director of Pediatrics for Denver Health and the district’s close partner on its COVID response team. "The focus moving forward needs to be on vaccination—including boosters for teens and adults, as well staying home and getting tested when we're sick. The lifting of this mandate does not mean that individuals should not or cannot mask."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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