A boy listens to his headphones as Douglas County Health Board members debate allowing students and teachers to opt out of masking mandates in schools at an Oct. 8 special meeting. (Jessica Gibbs, CCM photo)

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A federal judge Tuesday issued a ruling temporarily halting a public health order issued by Douglas County’s new board of health that allowed people to opt out of mask mandates and restricted quarantines.

The ruling came after the Douglas County School District filed a lawsuit challenging the public health order.

U.S. District Judge John Kane directed the newly-formed Douglas County Health Department not to enforce the public health order for at least 14 days.

The school district previously mandated the wearing of masks inside its schools as a COVID-safety measure. The county order then allowed people to opt out of the district mask rule.

“I find the risk of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs is significant and they have sufficiently demonstrated that the public health order denies students (and) plaintiffs reasonable accommodations of science-backed mask and quarantine requirements,” Kane said. 

The ruling comes after arguments were presented by the Douglas County Health Department and the school district Monday and Tuesday.

The suit’s plaintiffs include nine families of students at high risk of COVID-19.

“The (public health) order denies the students plaintiffs reasonable accommodations in the form of adequate masking and quarantining protocol necessary to provide them with equal access to public education,” Kane said during his ruling.

Read more on Colorado Community Media.

Elliott Wenzler wrote about politics, water, housing, and other topics for The Colorado Sun from October 2022 through September 2023. She has covered community issues in Colorado since 2019, including for Colorado Community Media. She has been...