âWe have started this school year with enthusiasm and look forward to serving all students, in person, five days a week. This is a huge improvement over the way we started and ended the last school year. However, under quarantine regulations in Colorado, it is increasingly difficult to keep students in school.
I never imagined that over 2,000 students and staff would be quarantined during the first six weeks of school. This equates to more than 300 students in quarantine each week. Students not only missed school, but were also forced to miss athletic competitions, the High Trails experience, a choir, band, theater, reunion and other important programs and activities due to the quarantines. . In addition, family schedules, parents’ working hours, family income and our teachers who are also parents have been negatively impacted. If we stick to the current course, we risk missing more students in important activities that support their academic, social, emotional and mental health. We cannot relive distance, online and hybrid school as it did last year.
We need our students and classroom staff, who learn together, five days a week, without the ongoing disruption we experience. Therefore, with the support of school principals, we need to introduce mask requirements.
It is not a decision that I take lightly, rush or try to make pretending to be a public health expert. I am making this decision only to provide a cohesive educational experience every day for all students in all grades. We will continue to monitor the ever-changing environment and data and adjust where possible.
Face cover / mask mandatory
Starting Monday, September 27, 2021, the mask will be mandatory for all preschool to grade 12 students when in indoor classrooms or other indoor large group gatherings.
All teachers, staff and visitors, regardless of location and school affiliation, are also required to wear face coverings in the presence of others. Face covers may be temporarily removed in the classroom when teaching appropriate. Face covers / masks continue to be required on school buses under federal law.
During transition periods – because students are not together for more than 15 minutes – face covers / masks may be removed until entering the next classroom.
Face coverings / masks will not be required outdoors, and managers are committed to providing adequate mask breaks throughout the day.
Please note that the mask requirement will not change any quarantines already in place.
Face covers / mask exemptions
Staff and students who are medically excused in writing are exempt from the requirement to cover their faces. This may include people who have, at the discretion of a healthcare professional:
Medical or other health conditions
Mental or physical disability,
Â· Developmental or behavioral needs that make wearing a face covering impossible in a learning environment.
If a student refuses to wear a face cover and does not have a written medical exemption to wear a face cover, they will be reminded that it is mandatory. If the student continues to refuse to wear a face covering, the parent / guardian will be contacted to discuss next steps.
Appropriate face covers / masks
Remember that face covers / masks should cover the nose and mouth and be secured to the head with ties, straps or loops over the ears or wrapped around the lower face or neck. We will continue to provide access to face covers / masks if your student requires them.
Additional layers of security
We continue to promote improved cleaning and disinfection protocols in our schools. We also make sure our HVAC systems are performing at optimal levels and running more frequently.
Most importantly, please screen your students for illness before sending them to school. Any symptom of illness should require students or staff to stay home. We also encourage those who are eligible and willing to consider vaccination.
As I said before, I don’t intend to debate the effectiveness of the face covering / mask. The fact remains that, under current state regulations, universal masking, vaccination and the recent COVID-19 diagnosis are the only exemptions from quarantine.
I have met with representatives from the governor’s office requesting changes to existing regulations and proposed alternatives to the regulations, but to no avail. I will continue to work with local public health to propose and develop alternatives that could reduce quarantines in the future, without requiring a face covering. I am frustrated with our current situation because it places public education in a dead end.
I am committed to keeping students in school and in person. In-person school attendance promotes academic, mental, social, emotional and physical well-being and stability. It keeps our students engaged not only during the school day, but also in important extracurricular activities.
You can expect to receive additional information from your school soon.
More than ever, we need to unite and do all we can to support students and keep them in school. Thanks for your patience and support.
Be careful and be well “