Masks to be 'strongly encouraged' by Douglas County Schools

District will not require face coverings amid new CDC guidance

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Douglas County Schools does not plan to change its mask protocols for the upcoming school year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance to fight the rise in Delta variant cases.

Superintendent Corey Wise released his most recent update about COVID procedures on July 21. Face coverings will be “strongly encouraged” for students 11 and younger when learning indoors. The same is true for students 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated. Masks will not be required.

“We will honor the decision of parents when it comes to their children wearing or not wearing a face covering in school,” Wise wrote.

Spokeswoman Paula Hans said July 30 the district does not have plans to change that policy. School in the Douglas County School District begins Aug. 9 for first through 12th graders and Aug. 12 for kindergartners.

The CDC on July 27 recommended fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks when visiting public indoor places in areas of high or substantial COVID-19 risk. Douglas County was rated substantial risk as of July 30, according to a community transmission map available on the CDC website. Most of Colorado was rated in the high or substantial categories.

Reached by email, Tri-County Health Department Executive Director John Douglas said on July 27 that the agency was working with school districts in its jurisdiction to implement in-person learning, prevent transmission and decide “how best to apply this new guidance.”

The health department released a statement July 30 endorsing the CDC's mask guidance, and recommending all people wear masks in schools “regardless of vaccination status.” The Delta variant is surging across the Denver metro area as vaccination rates increase slowly, the release said.

The release called universal masking “a strong science-based recommendation” but not a Tri-County Health requirement.

Reporter Ellis Arnold contributed to this story.

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