New Public Health Order - Mask Requirements

New Public Health Order - Mask Requirements
Posted on 08/17/2021

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August 17, 2021

Dear Douglas County School District Families and Staff,

We continue to participate in regular discussions with our partners at the Tri-County Health Department. As you know, our layered COVID mitigation protocols were developed in collaboration and in accordance with the Tri-County Health Department and their recommendations.

This evening, the Tri-County Health Department Board of Health voted to implement a public health order changing their stance on mask-wearing for children ages 2-11 from recommended to required. In alignment with DCSD policy, “management of common communicable diseases will be in accordance with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment or Tri-County Health Department guidelines.” Given that Tri-County Health Department has the legal authority to issue public health orders, DCSD is obligated to follow their mask-wearing requirement. Neighborhood, private, magnet, and charter schools within Tri-County Health Department’s jurisdiction all fall under this public health order.

As such, effective Monday, August 23, the Douglas County School District will require masks inside school buildings for all students in Preschool through Sixth Grade, as well as for the staff who work with this age group. Approximately 94% of students in sixth grade are in the 2-11 age group, so we will be requiring masks for sixth grade students even though some of them may be older than age 11 and some may attend middle school.

  • Masks will also be required indoors for before and after school activities (including BASE) and athletics (for students in preschool through sixth grade).

  • In addition, any visitors to DCSD buildings (regardless of grade levels served) will be required to wear a face covering.

    • This includes DCSD staff and contractors who are inside school buildings when students are present.

  • All students and staff continue to be required to wear masks on school buses regardless of vaccination status. The federal CDC order requires face masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs.

  • Students and staff should bring their own face covering (however, masks will be made available upon request). Click here for information on how to select the most effective masks and how to wear masks correctly and consistently for the best protection.

We realize this adjustment to our COVID protocols may spark a range of emotions in our community from relief to anxiety to anger. However, as previously communicated, DCSD’s COVID protocols will align with local and state health orders. The safety of each of our students and staff is a top priority, and the goal is to maintain in-person learning. Health officials believe this mask requirement will help us keep schools open and students in classrooms.

The Tri-County Health Department and other medical experts emphasize that mask wearing is an important and effective prevention strategy to keep students and staff safe. While masks are not mandatory for students in grades 7-12 at this time, it is still strongly recommended that all students and staff wear masks inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status.

Some of the reasoning behind Tri-County’s decision to implement a public health order include:

  • Transmission of COVID-19, exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta Variant, is highly likely in the school setting without high levels of mask wearing.

  • Transmission in this setting would pose considerable risk, including:

    • Risk to the health of children, especially those not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

    • Risk of transmission to family and friends outside of the school setting, especially for those at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

    • Risk of interference with in-person learning due to isolation of positive cases and quarantine of children exposed in outbreak situations. This is particularly important toward our shared goal of maintaining a high-level of in-person learning with its positive impact on education, mental health, and social-emotional development of our children.

In the coming weeks, it is anticipated that the COVID vaccine will be made available to children ages 2-11. Health experts advise that the vaccination will be a critical mitigation factor moving forward.

DCSD will also continue with the following layered approach to COVID mitigation:

  • Encouraging frequent hand washing and providing access to hand sanitation stations.

  • Continuing with increased ventilation in buildings.

  • Encouraging outdoor learning and activities where possible.

  • Disinfecting frequently.

  • Implementing physical distancing where possible.

  • Providing families and staff with information about COVID vaccination and testing opportunities.

  • Notifying families when their student may have been exposed to COVID so they may screen for symptoms and access COVID testing if desired.

  • Notifying staff members when they may have been exposed to COVID so they may screen for symptoms and access COVID testing if desired.

It is critical to note that the protocols listed above will not be most effective without the partnerships of our families and staff. Please continue to do your part by keeping students home, and/or staying home yourself, when showing symptoms of illness. Please reference this symptom screening document for guidance on when it is safe to return to school after illness.

As we’ve previously stated, strong plans are able to adjust to changes while providing a framework that is defined, yet flexible. We will continue to update our community should public health orders change.

We still believe this will be a great school year and we are doing everything we can to provide our students with as much normalcy as possible. I remain hopeful that our community will work together to help our students and staff persevere through the ongoing challenges of the COVID pandemic. Our mental health professionals and school counselors will continue to partner with our schools and educators to ensure that all students have the support they need to thrive.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and partnership.

Sincerely,
Corey Wise
Superintendent
Douglas County School District

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In compliance with Titles VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and Colorado law, the Douglas County School District RE-1 does not unlawfully discriminate against otherwise qualified students, employees, applicants for employment, or members of the public on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, ancestry, or need for special education services. Discrimination against employees and applicants for employment based on age, genetic information, and conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth is also prohibited in accordance with state and/or federal law. Complaint procedures have been established for students, parents, employees, and members of the public. The School District's Compliance Officer and Title IX Coordinator to address complaints alleging sexual harassment under Title IX is Aaron Henderson, 620 Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, Colorado, complianceofficer@dcsdk12.org, 720-433-1083.

Outside Agencies

Complaints regarding violations of Title VI, (race, national origin), Title IX (sex, gender), Section 504/ADA (handicap or disability), may be filed directly with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite 310, Denver, CO 80204. Complaints regarding violations of Title VII (employment) and the ADEA (prohibiting age discrimination in employment) may be filed directly with the Federal Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 303 E. 17th Ave., Suite 510, Denver, CO 80202, or the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 1560 Broadway, Suite 1050, Denver, CO 80202.