Englewood Schools to require masks indoors, vaccinated or not, as classes begin

The rule is a stricter policy than the district previously announced for the coming school year.

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Englewood Schools students will start the school year required to wear masks no matter their COVID-19 vaccination status.
 
The new guideline comes after the Tri-County Health Department endorsed universal masking Aug. 4. Tri-County Health oversees public health in Arapahoe, Douglas and Adams counties.
 
“As we prepare for the start of the school year, we have been monitoring the changing health conditions in the community and having discussions with our partners at Tri-County Health regarding the best way to keep students and staff healthy and safe as well as provide an optimal in-person learning environment,” Englewood Schools Superintendent Wendy Rubin said in the Aug. 4 announcement.
 
“What we know about COVID-19 is that a layered approach to safety is one that keeps staff and students healthy and in school learning," Rubin said.
 
Under Englewood Schools' new policy for the start of school, masks will be required for all students, visitors and staff while inside all Englewood schools, regardless of whether a person is vaccinated or not. This includes indoor athletics and after-school activities.
 
Masks will not be required outside, “since the risk of COVID transmission is significantly lower outdoors.”
 
Per federal law, all bus riders must wear masks while being transported on school buses. Buses are considered public transportation.
 
District students return to class Aug. 16 or 17 depending on grade.
 
Under the previous rules, which took effect July 1, mask wearing would not have been required at school, indoors or outdoors, for children age 11 and younger and for adults and students 12 and older who are fully vaccinated.
 
The district reviewed its previous mask policy at its Aug. 3 school board meeting, at which time the district was prepared to move forward with highly recommending masks for all students. But on Aug. 4, the district held off releasing that policy pending action by Tri-County Health, and when Tri-County recommended mandatory masking, the school district followed that recommendation.
 
At the Aug. 3 meeting, Rubin sought input from board members, who were mixed on whether they wanted to start the school year requiring or recommending mask wearing.
Board member Gary Manfre was outspoken about his opinion that masks not be required and adamant that families have a choice.
 
Other board members were on the fence.
 
“I was someone that took a lot of time to make the decision to get myself vaccinated and to have my children,” said board member Tena Prange. “So I'm sensitive to people's personal choice and I do think there is a lot of action going on right now around mask wearing or providing vaccination status updates.”
 
Prange said she doesn't like the idea of telling people what to do with their bodies or creating circumstances that push people into doing things that they might not want to do. But now seeing how many people who are vaccinated getting the Delta variant, and how the variant is affecting children, shifted her thoughts toward mandating masks.

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