GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Masks will continue to be necessary indoors for all school and childcare facility students, staff and visitors until Feb. 4, the Tri-County Health Department announced Friday.

While Douglas County paid for services through 2021, Adams and Arapahoe Counties are still partnered under the Tri-County Health Department until December but have voted to secede from the umbrella health department. Individual health departments will take control of their respective counties starting January 2023.

“While COVID-19 is likely to be with us for years to come and challenging new variants are likely to emerge.

“We are increasingly confident that we have sufficient tools at the present time —high levels of immunity through vaccination and recent infection,  an increasing array of better treatments, and solid prevention measures through masking, testing, and improved ventilation–to allow schools, businesses and other members of the community to implement the protections they feel are most appropriate for their situation,” Executive Director of TCHD John M. Douglas, Jr., MD said.

Douglas County’s newly-formed board of health unanimously passed a public health order allowing parents to exempt their kids from wearing masks in schools in October last year. The DougCo school district and parents sued the health department and a federal judge ruled that the public health order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Last month, the Douglas County Board of Education voted to leave masking in schools up to parents and students.

TCHD is holding a meeting on Monday to discuss further extensions beyond Feb. 4.