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Douglas County charter school listens to feedback on mask mandate

Dozens of parents spoke at an Aspen View Academy school board meeting to speak about how they feel about a mask mandate in the charter school.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — As of late Thursday, no vote and no action had been taken by the Aspen View Academy school board for whether or not a mask mandate would remain implemented at the school. 

Currently, a mask mandate is in place at the charter school, according to the school board president, Troy Schroeder. 

The charter school falls under Tri-County Health Department, which implemented it's own mask mandate that states districts cannot opt-out of, meaning the school must follow those rules as of now. 

More than 60 people signed up to speak during public comment on the matter, with many voicing their opinion in favor of students and staff to have the choice for whether or not to wear a mask in school. 

"When it comes to masks, no one, especially those unelected should have the authority to pick and choose who wears them and when," said one parent. 

There were some other parents who were not in favor of going against local public health orders. 

"It pains me to see that our school is willing to go to such extreme measures to jeopradize our school's future and children's education," a parent said. 

This week the Aspen View Academy school board president Troy Schroeder sent a letter to parents, which he says was on behalf of himself and doesn't represent the school board's overall opinion. He said the letter was in an effort to explain to parents' what the potential consequences could be for not following the mask mandate. 

In part, the letter read, "As a school, it would seem as though we have three choices: A. Comply and enforce strict mask wearing at AVA at all times – no exceptions (a lot like last year). B. Do our best to comply and allow students and staff to make decisions about their own health while masking. C. Completely ignore the public health order all together."

The letter also read in part, "If we choose option C, we have chosen to be civilly disobedient. We need to understand that this option does not come without a cost. It could bring media attention, negativity, citations, fines, and ultimately could risk the school being shut down forcing us to return to remote learning."

The Pre-K through 8th grade charter school sits in Douglas County, which falls under the Tri-County Health Department's mask mandate. 

This week, Douglas County Commissioners moved to formally exit Tri-County Health, but the issue would be further discussed on September 7th. 

According to the Tri-County Health Department, it is unlawful for any person to willfully violate, disobey, or disregard public health orders, including this Order. Among other things, TCHD may seek a court order in Colorado state district court to enforce this Order and/or to restrain or enjoin any violation of this Order. 

"We have every intention to work with schools and childcare centers to remain open for in person learning in a safe environment and will be providing additional practical guidance on Order implementation," a spokesperson said via email. 

9News legal analyst Whitney Traylor explained the legality and possibility of a public health entity taking a school, for example, to court. 

"But one thing that I think would happen is that they would go to court. Both sides would want to go and get what's called a declaratory judgment. They'd want a judge to actually say, yes, you can or cannot do that, you know, and sometimes people will seek a declaratory judgment before they do something," Traylor said. "So in this case, I could see litigation regarding a judge really resolving the issue by way of a declaratory judgment."

Boulder Valley School District, Jefferson County Public Schools, Denver Public Schools, Westminster Public Schools, and Douglas County School District all are requiring masks. 

DPS said they have had no reports of instances where schools were not following the mask mandate. If that were to be the case, a spokesperson says district leadership would follow up with the school leader to ensure that the mask mandate is being followed.

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