Tri-County Health Department will require masks for school children aged 2-11

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — UPDATE (Aug. 27, 12:25 p.m.): Cherry Creek Schools announced Friday it is   expanding its mask requirement to pre-K through eighth grade. The previous requirement mandated masks for children in pre-K through sixth grade.

The change will take effect Monday, Aug. 30.

The district sent a letter to parents saying, in part, “Based on continued conversations with Tri-County Health Department and further clarification of its Public Health Order regarding masks for students ages 2 through 11, masks will be required for all PreK, Elementary and Middle School students and all staff in those buildings. 

This decision is also based on monitoring internal tracking data from the past 10 days, which is posted on our website.”

UPDATE (Aug. 17, 5:15 p.m.) The Tri-County Health Department will require all children aged 2-11 — and everyone working and interacting with them — to wear masks indoors at schools and childcare facilities, effective Aug. 23.

The health department’s Board of Health passed the order Tuesday in a 6-2 vote with one abstention.

Counties have the option to opt out, but schools, school districts and childcare facilities could still choose to follow the order.

ORIGINAL: The Tri-County Board of Health is considering a mask mandate for everyone in an indoor school setting where individuals 11 and younger are present.

The Cherry Creek School District and Jefferson County Schools already require masks for younger students indoors. 

Typically, it’s been up to the school districts to make rules, but a proposal to make a rule across the board was postponed until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Tri-County is made up of three counties: Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Without the Tri-County order, masks were not required in Douglas County schools. They are only strongly recommended.

They say the rationale behind this is protection for those unable to vaccinate, fewer disruptions to in-person learning and reduced mental stress because bullying of mask-wearers or vice versa.

In an hour and a half public comment session Monday afternoon, parents gave their opinions directly to the board in hopes of swaying their decision process on a mandate.

“What if our biggest regret at the end of this, is that we were too cautious? That is a regret I can live with,” said one parent in support of a mandate.

“You want to oppress and segregate our children. Stop trying to sugar coat your narrative and stop abusing our children,” said another parent, opposed to mask requirements.

In total, Tri County Public Health received 3,500 written comments plus requests from 913 people who wanted to speak.

Right now, Cherry Creek School District has a mask mandate for children in grades K-6, but no requirements for students in grades 7-12. That could change however, depending on how the Tri-County Board of Health votes on Tuesday.

A Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 poll found that, nationally, 63% of parents favored mandatory masking for unvaccinated children. Opposition to school-mandated vaccination was high, with only 42% of parents of students ages 12-17 favoring it. According to this poll, it seems parents prefer a mask mandate over a vaccine mandate.  

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