Update on DCSD Universal Mask Requirement

Update on DCSD Universal Mask Requirement
Posted on 10/01/2021


October 1, 2021

Dear Douglas County School District Families and Staff,

It has been wonderful visiting our schools over the past couple of months and seeing our students and staff engaged in learning and participating in activities such as recent homecoming events.

Yesterday afternoon, the newly formed Douglas County Health Department governing board met and resolved that Douglas County is no longer under a Public Health Order requiring mask wearing in school and child care settings. However, the Douglas County School District will continue to require the wearing of facial coverings inside all school buildings (including neighborhood, magnet, and charter schools) for all students, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and the Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) all continue to recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to PreK-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Continuation of the universal mask requirement in DCSD schools is in accordance with Board File JLCC which requires management of communicable diseases in accordance with CDPHE and TCHD guidelines.

Removing Mask Requirements Would Result in Increased Quarantines
In addition, Douglas County has entered into an inter-governmental agreement with TCHD to utilize Tri-County Health Department’s services, including Disease Control and Investigations. TCHD may issue site-specific or situation-specific public health orders to control the spread of disease in schools and child care facilities. This may include:

  • Issuing an Order to Close

  • Issuing Isolation and/or Quarantine Orders

  • Issuing Orders to Require the Implementation of Mitigation Measures to Reduce Risk of Spread in Outbreak and Other High-Risk Settings

The Douglas County School District and its schools are still subject to the Tri-County Health Department’s quarantining rules (see this letter from TCHD).
When masks are required in schools, CDPHE’s school quarantine guidance (which TCHD utilizes when working with schools on isolation and quarantine) allows more flexibility. For example, if your child is exposed in the classroom, you currently would receive an exposure notification but your child would not necessarily be directed to quarantine.

However, if DCSD were to lift its universal mask requirement at this time, TCHD would require DCSD to implement quarantine practices more similar to last year. In other words, anytime an unmasked and unvaccinated student or staff member was exposed (e.g. identified as a close contact to someone who is symptomatic or positive for COVID), they would be required to quarantine. As an example, if there was a COVID exposure in an elementary school classroom and half of the students were wearing masks, the other half that was not wearing masks would have to be quarantined.

As you may recall, last year’s quarantine protocols took a huge toll on DCSD’s students, staff, and families and required significant resources and hours be dedicated to contact tracing and quarantine/exposure communications. Many students were continuously moving back and forth between in-person and remote learning. It was impossible to provide students with a consistent and stable learning environment.

Our students and staff need routine and consistency. Of course, DCSD will continue to honor medical exemptions for masks, and incorporate mask breaks where possible through outdoor learning, etc.

We know that in-person learning is best. It is best for our students. It is best for our staff. And it is best for our families. Our focus continues to be keeping our students and staff in the classroom, while navigating the complexities of COVID. This includes minimizing quarantines and working to avoid school closures and/or transitions to remote learning.

Over the past three weeks DCSD has incorporated masking practices and data shows that incidence rates have been going down in our community. We will continue to monitor this COVID data.

By continuing to work together to follow layered COVID mitigation strategies, our schools can continue to be filled with the sounds of learning and laughter. Thank you for your partnership as we continue to work together to keep our students in school.

Corey Wise
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.