CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) - The newly-formed Douglas County Board of Health approved a new public health order on Friday allowing children and adults to have an exemption to mask requirements and allowing people who are asymptomatic to avoid quarantine. The policy would allow parents to send their students to schools without masks and teachers to stop wearing one while in school.
"It's very personal for a lot of people and I've been told that bad things happen when good people don't speak up," said one mother from Parker who supported the new health order. "I'm so thankful for you and so thankful to live in this county, where you hear people and I just really appreciate it a lot."
The majority of the people who spoke in person at the board meeting and those who called in remotely agreed with the decision, a unanimous vote of all five members. But a few people expressed concern about taking this approach, including one parent in the room.
"Douglas County Commissioners' priorities listed on the public website says their goal is to keep you safe, it says that, and to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens," a father from Parker said. "Being stern and saying anti-mask, it's scary for me being the parent of two kids."
The new health order states that an exemption can be granted if someone has concerns about their physical or mental health. The board made clear during their meeting though it would not supersede any state or federal mandates that are in place relating to COVID-19. Members of the Board of Health include two current county commissioners, a doctor who also served on the Tri-County Health Department Board, and a former Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment executive director and appointee to the EPA.
"We have all the faith in the world that the school district will obey the public health order," said George Teal, a Douglas County Commissioner and the secretary for the Board of Health. "There are criminal consequences to not obeying a public health order."
The Douglas County School District explained in a notice to the community on Oct. 1 that it would keep face coverings as a requirement for everyone inside all school buildings. The superintendent said this universal masking approach was still necessary even after the county got its new health department because of the district's obligations to Tri-County Health. He explained in part that the removal of masks would require more quarantining, the Douglas County Board of Health says its new health order should prevent that. The district said it was still reviewing the policy on Friday afternoon.
Read the new health order: https://www.douglas.co.us/documents/public-health-order-oct-9-2021.pdf/
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