Effective Friday, Feb. 18, residents in Jefferson County, including students in Jeffco Public Schools, will no longer be under Public Health Order 21-006, which requires masking for all individuals over the age of three in all public, indoor spaces.
Masks will continue to be required on school buses where federal mandates take precedence over local policy. Privately owned businesses also will have the right to require masks.
The change comes as a result of Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) Board of Directors voting to rescind mandates in place since Nov. 23, 2021.
Prior to the vote, JCPH board members debated pros and cons of keeping the mandate in place before ultimately deciding to let the Public Health Order expire. Officials said it’s possible the mask mandate could expire sooner than Feb. 18, if data indicates an earlier lifting of the mandate is warranted. In their own statement emailed to parents and students in the district, Jeffco Public Schools officials said based on public health data and trends provided to the public, the district strongly supports an earlier rescinding of masks should JCPH decide to do so.
A statement posted to the Jeffco website Jan. 31, foreshadowed the Feb 3 announcement, saying JCPH will continue to work with public schools to mitigate spread of the virus while prioritizing in-person learning.
“As discussions continue about how to move forward into the next phase of mitigation strategies, JCPH is proud to work closely with and support our schools in their efforts,” said Christine Billings, head of the Office of Pandemic Response at JCPH. “It will continue to be vital to preserve the health and safety of school-aged children and all the adults who work in and interact with our schools — especially those who may be medically fragile or are not yet eligible for the vaccine. JCPH will work hand-in-hand with all our community’s school leaders to ensure programs and policies that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, as well as preserve and prioritize in-person learning.”
Despite the forthcoming change in guidance, Jefferson County continues to experience high levels of COVID-19 transmission. Current data from the county COVID dashboard shows a 7-day Cumulative Count and Incidence rate of 3,080 new cases and a 7-day Average Test Positivity rate of 15.1%.