In line with state guidance, Denver public school officials are considering whether students are required to wear masks in the upcoming year and will make a decision before school starts on Aug. 23.
The state teachers’ union on Wednesday said in-person classes are the best option for students. While individual districts and schools will have the autonomy to decide whether masks or vaccinations are required to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested Tuesday that those 2 years and older Anyone older should wear a mask.
The agency – which DPS said did not give notice that the recommendations were coming – also suggests that students and staff do not have to quarantine after “regular” class exposure.
Spokesman Will Jones said the DPS required masks last year, and that officials are working with public health experts when it comes to deciding whether to impose more stringent requirements.
“While we expect more normal operations to return, it is possible that some requirements (such as the use of masks) will continue into the beginning of the school year,” Jones said in an email.
As the DPS and other districts in Colorado consider the recommendations of the state health department, they should involve teachers and professionals “who are with students all day, every day,” says state teachers union president Amy. According to Baka-Ohlert, the Colorado Education Association.
“Teachers are on the front lines of this and their expertise is vital to any planning that will take place for the 2021-22 school year,” Baka-Ohlert said in a statement.
Rob Gould, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, said his organization must work with DPS and the Metro Denver Partnership for Health to keep students, staff and families safe. He encouraged everyone eligible to be vaccinated so that teachers could continue to work with students individually.
“Vaccination is the key,” Gould said.
Representatives for teacher unions in Arapaho and Jefferson counties did not immediately return a request for comment on the state’s recommendations.
State health officials are not enforcing any mask requirements, but suggest that local public health agencies and school districts consider a face covering mandate for those without vaccinations. State guidelines largely mirror theirs U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends everyone over two, regardless of vaccination status – Masks should be worn in schools.