Jeffco Public Schools to require in-school masking for ages 3-11

Masks still recommended for 12-18-year-olds regardless of vaccine status

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Jeffco Public Schools students will still be seeing their fair share of masks once they return to classrooms this fall. In fact, up through 12 years of age (around sixth grade), student masks will be required inside school facilities. 

For students  12 years of age and older, masks will be "strongly suggested" according to the new release sent out by the district on July 30. 

"For students age 12 and above (generally 7th through 12th grade), masks indoors are strongly recommended for unvaccinated students, and recommended for vaccinated students in alignment with the guidance from Jefferson County Public Health.," the news release states. 

Masks will still be recommended for vaccinated students.  However, vaccinated students will not be required to quarantine if they are potentially exposed to a COVID-19-positive individual. 

Jeffco students start the new school year on Aug. 17. 

The news release warns that guidelines could change as local data on pandemic case numbers change. The district says it will revisit the mask requirements if county cases drop below 35 cases per 100,000. Current data places the county at 75 cases per 100,000. 

District staff will be required to notify the district of their vaccine status. Those not vaccinated will be required to wear a mask inside of district facilities. Those who are vaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask. 

All visitors to Jeffco schools will be required to wear a mask.

The district guidelines were chosen specifically with the county health department's policies in mind. JCPH recommended on July 29 that all people, including the vaccinated, return to wearing masks indoors. 

The district's news release also said JCPH has said it will strictly enforce quarantine guidelines for exposure to COVID. Last school year a steady stream major quarantines of students and staff forced multiple school closures, leading some schools and eventually the whole district to return to full-remote learning for more than a month.  Even as schools returned to in-person learning, the remainder of the spring remained a rough one, in terms of cases in the schools. 

Perhaps too optimistically, the district archived its COVID-19 information website over the summer, which had included a dashboard which helped indicate the level of COVID-19 cases and quarantines, as well as the latest information in safety protocols and requirements. 

The district's message continues:

Our primary goal in making this decision is to maintain an uninterrupted in-person learning experience for our students. We simply cannot take the risk of extensive quarantines and fluctuating attendance which will keep so many healthy students out of school. Again, this decision will be revisited as we observe improvements in our case counts and vaccination status within the county. We are hopeful that a vaccine will be available for all of our students very soon. In addition, we need to be flexible this school year. Changes to operations may occur over time based on county case rates, school-based outbreaks, number of quarantines, and any public health order that may come from our county, state, or federal government.

Parents and students interested in a 100% online learning environment for 2021-22 may consider attending the Jeffco Remote Learning Program. The enrollment period closes at noon on August 12.

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