Eagle County Schools will continue to require masks in school
The clarification follows numerous announcements made regarding mask wearing and vaccines
Eagle County Schools said on Tuesday that it will continue to require students and staff to wear masks indoors while attending school. The clarification follows the announcement made in recent weeks regarding mask wearing and vaccines.
A statement made by the Centers for Disease Control on May 13 stated that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks. On the same day, Gov. Jared Polis echoed the statement for fully-vaccinated individuals.
The district’s announcement also follows the news that local Eagle County Department of Public Health and Environment plans to drop all its public health orders on Wed., May 19.
While these announcements are a sign of better days ahead, it created some confusion within public schools due to the lack of vaccination authorization for younger age groups.
“The governor’s statements from May 14 maintained that masks would be required indoors for any unvaccinated individuals,” said Superintendent Philip Qualman. “For public schools, that continues to be a large number of students, including all elementary and middle school students.”
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Currently, vaccines are not authorized for children under the age of 12. Those between the ages of 12 and 15 were only recently authorized to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Due to these restrictions, many students will not be fully vaccinated – having their second dose plus 14 days – until after the end of the school year.
The district maintains that adopting a similar protocol to Gov. Polis, in which fully-vaccinated students wouldn’t have to wear masks, is too difficult to control and verify.
In addition, on May 16, the CDC issued a clarification of its own stating that it still recommends masks be worn in public schools.
“We still have an obligation to meet the health and safety needs of our students, who are largely unvaccinated,” Qualman continued. “Consequently, we are requiring that masks be worn by students and staff while indoors. In addition, we ask parents to continue with morning health checks and to keep children home who are exhibiting symptoms.”
The district is relaxing its requirements about mask wearing in outdoor settings and at outdoor events beginning May 19, when local public health orders end. In those cases, masks will be optional. At upcoming events, such as graduations, the venue sets their own requirements. Please have a mask ready and be cooperative with any requests by venues.
“We’re all ready to stop wearing masks,” said Qualman. “But, let’s continue to protect our students. We’ve made it this far, let’s press on to the finish line with as few student illnesses as possible.”