Harrison School District 2 students, left to right, Kyla Randle, Parker Layman and Laila Randle wear masks as they wait to enter Centennial Elementary School in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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With the start of school less than a month away, many Colorado parents are still waiting to know if their children will be required to wear masks in the classroom.

Colorado’s latest public health order at the beginning of July said masks were no longer required by the state in school settings. But federal guidance released days later recommended that any unvaccinated students or staff continue to wear masks in schools, along with following several other safety precautions, with the goal of keeping schools open for in-person learning.

Some districts used the state’s initial guidance to change the rules right away in their summer programs, while other district leaders said it was not appropriate to switch the rules with so little time left in those programs.

Now as parents, students and staff prepare for the upcoming school year, the decisions about what precautions to take in schools will mostly be a matter of local control. District leaders were hesitant to talk about mask decisions, only saying they were still collaborating with local public health agencies as they finalized plans.

School officials in many communities face competing pressures between public health guidance, parents who want a more “normal” school year for their children, and other parents who want to see COVID precautions remain in place. Meanwhile, vaccination rates vary widely around the state, and some Colorado communities are seeing an increase in COVID cases.

A few districts have announced that they intend to make masks optional this coming school year. That includes Douglas County, Weld RE-4 in Windsor, Adams 12, and Westminster, where officials said the decision is not yet final.

Read more at chalkbeat.org.

Erica Meltzer is Bureau Chief of Chalkbeat Colorado, where she also covers the legislature and statewide education issues. Erica was a founding editor of the local news site Denverite. Before that, she covered everything from housing and energy...

Yesenia Robles is Chalkbeat Colorado’s Suburban Reporter looking at changes happening in Denver’s suburban school districts. Yesenia grew up in Denver, graduated from CU Boulder and is fluent in Spanish. She previously covered suburbs, education...