ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — All students in the three counties served by the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) are now required to wear masks indoors, but over the past few weeks there have been multiple changes to the mask policies due to disagreements between the department and the counties.
The current public health order took effect Sept. 1 and requires masks indoors at all schools in the counties, including staff and visitors.
Below is a look at how we got to this point.
Initial TCHD public health order
The TCHD board voted on Aug. 17 to approve a public health order requiring masks for children 2-11 in childcare and school settings.
The order took effect on Aug. 23, however, the order had a provision allowing counties to opt out. That provision was put in place as part of a prior agreement with Douglas County and the health department.
Douglas County ops out
Two days later, on Aug. 19, and before the order took effect, the Douglas County commissioners voted to opt out. That meant it was up to schools in the county to decide whether they would follow the order.
The Douglas County School District (DCSD) said it would follow the order, despite the vote by the commissioners.
Adams County opts out
On Aug. 24, a day after the order went into effect, Adams County commissioners voted to join Douglas County and opt out of the order.
This allowed schools in Adams County to choose whether to require masks in schools.
TCHD reconsiders opt out provision, issues new public health order
After two counties opted out and Arapahoe County announced plans to vote whether to do so, TCHD said it would reconsider the opt-out provision.
On Aug. 30, the Tri-County Health Department did away with the opt-out option and rescinded its initial order. It was replaced with a new order that went into effect on Sept. 1.
The second, and now-current health order, requires masks indoors at all schools in the counties regardless of vaccinations status. It includes all students, staff and visitors.
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