Summit School District to reconsider mask requirement after winter break

Students wear their masks as they return to Silverthorne Elementary for the first day of school on August 27, 2021. The Summit School District will review its mask requirement after students return from winter vacation next week.
Liz Copan/For the Daily News Summit

The Summit School District will reassess its mask requirement after students return from winter vacation on February 21.

At a Board of Education meeting on Thursday, February 10, Acting Superintendent Roy Crawford said he would meet with Summit County Public Health Department officials on February 21 to assess COVID-19 measures. county and state. The district should have an official decision to share with the community by February 23.

The county health department announced in a news release earlier this week that it would let the public health order expire at the end of the day on Friday, February 11. The statement said the department supports the district’s decision to retain the masks for the near future. , which is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the American Pediatric Association.

At the Feb. 21 meeting, Roy and public health officials will review case counts, vaccination rates and transmission in the district and statewide. They will also examine other districts in the state that have already removed mask requirements and assess the impact of this decision on the number of cases.

The superintendent hopes the number of cases in the district will be low after the week-long break from February 14-18.

“We’re lucky to have a week off next week, so the kids won’t be in school and the teachers won’t be in school,” Crawford said in an interview ahead of the meeting. “It’s a nice break for us.”

The district could choose to remove the requirement for middle or high school students only and keep it for elementary students. The vaccination rate among students at Summit High School and Snowy Peaks is over 70%. That number drops to less than 60% among middle schoolers and less than 30% in elementary school, Crawford said.

Due to the 90-minute class structure, high school students spend less time in the same room with each other than elementary or middle school students. It’s also easier to keep older students physically distant than younger children who aren’t as proficient in COVID-19 mitigation strategies, he said.

The superintendent said he can see the district using a phased approach, removing masks over time. Ultimately, when and how the masks are removed will depend on decisions made at the February 21 meeting.

Removing masks would be a welcome change for some parents, who feel they hinder students’ ability to socialize.

“At some point we must consider for the greater good the mental health of every person as much as we are and have weighed the physical health of our students and staff,” Summit High and Snow Peaks parent Aaron Wooten students, said during the public comment period at Thursday’s board meeting.

Crawford said he understands the concerns about development and social and emotional health, but the ultimate decision depends on the data. The superintendent doesn’t want to remove masks if it could lead to increased quarantines or school closures.

“I make no apologies for taking a cautious and deliberate approach,” Crawford said during Thursday’s meeting.

School board members supported Crawford’s plan to reevaluate the term after the winter break. However, some were more supportive of the idea of ​​removing the masks than others.

“Sometimes we have to make decisions or choices that may not be best for ourselves but are for the greater community and the greater world,” said board member Chris Alleman. , expressing support for masks.

Other board members, including Johanna Kugler and Gloria Quintero, raised concerns about bullying once the requirement was lifted. Kugler said she would like to see the district discourage any discrimination or bullying based on a student’s choice to wear a mask.


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