This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.
Mask mandates are out in Colorado school districts.
Over the last two weeks, districts around the state have dropped their mask requirements or set deadlines to do so as local public health departments have also lifted their school mandates. Colorado hasn’t had a statewide mask requirement since May 2021.
The decisions come as COVID cases are in steep decline after a January omicron wave that tested schools — though with an average of 2,400 new cases reported each day, cases are still higher than they were in September when many Front Range communities adopted school mask requirements.
The change mirrors decisions in previously COVID-cautious blue states like New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon that have also dropped school mask requirements.
“The health department, politics, and the public all seemed to be of a similar position that now is the time to take the government imposition of a mask mandate and make it parental choice,” said James Duffy, chief operating officer for Westminster Public Schools. “Of those three camps, it would be very difficult for us to swim upstream, so we decided to make it parental choice.
“We still encourage our staff and students to wear masks. We’re not anti-mask. We just need to focus on educating our kids.”
Some medical experts say it’s too early to safely drop mask requirements.