With several school districts in the Pikes Peak region reluctant to reimpose mask orders for their schools, students, teachers, and staff can mostly look forward to a ‘normal’ fall semester.
But those working at and attending public schools located on military installations in and around Colorado Springs may be looking at a different story as those installations impose universal mask requirements in public, indoor settings.
The requirements come from the U.S. Department of Defense, not Colorado’s governor, who on Thursday recommended mask wearing, but said that local school districts will ultimately be the ones to decide on face covering guidelines.
School districts in Colorado Springs, like Academy District 20 and Colorado Springs District 11, have refrained from reinstating indoor mask mandates. However, some districts, like District 11 and Harrison District 2, have required masks to be worn on school buses.
But for schools on military posts, students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks per a July 28 Department of Defense order requiring anyone on or entering military installations in areas of substantial or high community transmission to wear masks when indoors, regardless of whether or not they’ve been fully or partially vaccinated.
Anyone who does not have a mask may be provided one by the Department of Defense.
In the U.S. Air Force Academy, the defense department’s mandate will include Air Academy High School, who announced on Facebook on Wednesday that masks would be required inside buildings.
“We know it’s a sore point with some, but please remember that masks are required indoors,” school officials said in the post.
On Fort Carson, the mask mandate will include Abrams, Mountainside, Weikel, and Patriot elementary schools, as well as Carson Middle School, all of which fall within Fountain Fort-Carson District 8 as well as in Fort Carson itself.
“We’re following the Department of Defense order on Fort Carson,” District 8 spokeswoman Christy McGee said.
On Fort Carson, the mask mandate will be supplemented by other pandemic mitigation protocols the base will continue to implement, like grouping students and classes by cohorts, maintaining social distancing, wiping down surfaces, and reinforcing hand hygiene. Some of those protocols, like enforcing social distancing for unvaccinated personnel, were included in the defense department’s memorandum.
In determining community transmission levels, the defense department points to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics, who label communities as having ‘substantial’ transmission when they have a new case rate of 50-99 per 100,000 people over the last seven days, and as having ‘high’ transmission when communities are seeing a case rate of 100 or over.
In El Paso County, residents saw a case rate of over 147 in the seven days preceding Tuesday, Aug. 11. The county dipped back into ‘high’ transmission levels in late July, and has seen incidence rates of new cases of COVID-19 gradually climb since then.
This content was originally published here.