Elementary school students enrolled in Colorado Springs District 11 will now all be required to wear masks, district officials announced Friday evening. Secondary students could see the same requirement come through on Saturday.
In an update to a staff mask mandate announced on Wednesday, district officials said on Friday that elementary school students would also need to wear masks, effective Tuesday, regardless of their vaccination status.
They added that another day above a rate of 250 new cases per day in El Paso County would spell the same order being extended to middle and high school students.
“Regardless of individual feelings on masks/face coverings, the fact remains when all people in a classroom are masked, students will not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms,” officials said in a Friday message to district families.
The requirement for elementary school students, like the one for district staff that also starts Tuesday, will be in effect for 30 days, after which officials will re-evaluate whether or not to renew it based on community transmission of COVID-19.
The district said that schools have been provided with disposable masks for those who lose theirs or who forget to mask up. Students and staff will be able to take their masks off when they’re eating, outside on designated mask breaks, or during instruction that requires special attention to articulation, like phonics.
Students and staff will also be able to remove masks when they’re alone in a closed room, or when socially distanced in cubicles.
On Wednesday, district officials warned that a mask mandate for elementary-age students might be on the horizon if coronavirus case rates continued on the upward trend county data showed they’d maintained through much of August.
That prediction came to pass on Friday after county COVID-19 data reached five consecutive days above a seven-day rate of 200 cases per day.
Now, officials say a similar mask mandate could be next for the district’s secondary students, if the county COVID-19 community transmission levels reaches five consecutive days above a weekly average of 250 new cases per day.
As of Friday, El Paso County had seen four consecutive days with a one-week average new-case rate over 250. D-11 officials said they also anticipated a middle and high-school mask requirement to go into effect Tuesday.
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