Kiowa Schools employee resigns over COVID-19 safety concerns

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ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — An Elbert County School District C-2 employee put in her resignation in hopes of protecting her children from coronavirus. 

Mary Freitas worked for Kiowa Schools for nearly three years as an instructional coach. 

“I felt the need to leave because I didn’t really feel like it was the safest environment for me, especially knowing I have a son at home with asthma,” Freitas said, adding “I really want to make sure he stays safe.”

Freitas’ concerns started when she went back in the office. She says she noticed a few staff members weren’t fully wearing their masks properly or taking them down to talk.

Then, she watched two Kiowa School Board meetings.

“In one meeting, none of the board members were wearing a mask,” she said. “The last meeting, all but one. Those meetings are held in my work office so those concerned me a great deal.”

Kiowa Schools Superintendent Scott Mader confirmed the lack of masks worn at these school board meetings.

Staff and students are required to wear masks and there’s consequences for non compliance.

The following are the mask infraction consequences for students:

 1.  For the first two times written up for not wearing mask students get disciplinary warnings.

2.  Starting with the third written infraction there is detention.

3.  On the fourth written mask infraction, it is considered insubordination and there will be a suspension.

4.  On the fifth written mask infraction, there will be a suspension and possible expulsion.

The following are the mask infraction consequences for staff:

1. First a verbal reminder

2. Second a written reminder

3. Third a written reprimand placed in the personnel file

4. Fourth is considered insubordination and suspension or released from duties

Mader explains, as school board members are not staff, these rules do not apply to them and they do not face these consequences.

“We ask, we convince and I think it will work out,” he said, adding “the school board chairman did speak with individuals and then they complied, all but one, and he has since spoken with that individual.” 

Mader says he believes board members who do not wear masks will join meetings via Zoom in the future.

“I have already seen changes,” Freitas said.

Since her resignation, Freitas says her fellow staff seem to all be wearing their masks properly.

“I know they are all not really happy with me but if it creates a safer environment that’s all that matters,” she said, adding “If we don’t support each other, I’m just so afraid of what the consequences could be. I don’t want anyone to get sick.”

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