WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) – School districts across the State of Colorado are now evaluating whether or not they will require masks in classrooms during the 2021-2022 school year after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced vaccinated teachers and students no longer need to wear masks in schools. However, because COVID-19 vaccines are not approved for students under the age of 12, districts are left to debate if and how they will enforce mask requirements.
In Northern Colorado, the Weld RE-4 School District, which serves Windsor, Severance and parts of Greeley, has announced masks will be optional for students during the 2021-2022 school year.
CBS4 reached out to most of the large school districts along the Front Range for comment on what their plans were for the return to school. While many went unanswered, some of the largest districts in the state acknowledged their intent to reevaluate their mask mandates.
A spokesperson for Denver Public Schools sent CBS4 the following written statement:
"We anticipate that students of all ages will participate in a regular schedule (full-time, in-person learning Monday-Friday) and that students will not need to be in cohorts. Some health protocols may still be in place, such as the use of masks and limiting the number of students in large gatherings. We will continue to work with our health partners and share more details about health protocols as we get closer to the start of school in the fall."
Cherry Creek Schools told CBS4 they would be lifting mask requirements for nearly all students and staff starting this summer for their summer learning programs. However, the district would not comment on any plans being made for the full school year.
Poudre Schools, largely in Fort Collins, said they would be allowing summer schooling to continue without masks. However, they noted masks will still be required on busses, also saying the rules could change in the future. The district issued the following statement:
"Masks are no longer required in schools. Masks are strongly recommended but not required indoors. In the event of an exposure, students wearing masks would be less likely to receive quarantine orders."
"It was a struggle (wearing masks.) It was hard to breathe with them. I'm hoping we don't have to wear masks," said Cole Allshouse, an elementary school student in Windsor.
Cole, and his brother Ty, said they understood why masks were required during the peak of the pandemic. However, both held on hope to no masks in the upcoming school year.
"It has been kind of hard this year because if you don't have a mask you could possibly get COVID. I understand why they did it this year, but hopefully next year we don't have to wear masks," Ty said.
Cassie Malone, the boys' mother, said she felt masks were no longer necessary as the people who want vaccines have been given plenty of opportunities to get them.
"At this point, the opportunity has been out there. So, hopefully, each parent can choose for their child this upcoming year," Malone said.
A spokesperson at Boulder Valley Schools said the district planned to release guidelines in the coming weeks. A spokesperson for Westminster Schools echoed the same sentiments.
White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said masking rules are no longer required in schools on the federal level. However, she noted that each district can still enforce rules if they deem necessary.
"If they are not vaccinated, which obviously applies to children under a certain age who are not yet eligible, then there are guidelines that remain in place. How these guidelines are implemented has always been the purview of local school districts," Psaki said.
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