More Adams County school districts are responding to new mask guidance for younger students, leading some parents to respond angrily.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools decided to require masks for elementary and middle school student, just days before the Tri-County Health Department issued a similar public health order. Following Tri-County’s decision, other area districts changed their policies.
Adams 12 notified parents of the change to its mask policy Aug. 13, three days before the first day of school. Prior to sending that letter, the district said it was requiring staff to wear masks indoors, but not students. However, with new guidance from the Colorado chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, among other public health officials, the district reversed course.
Now, the district requires students in preschool through sixth grade must wear masks and it encourages the same for students in 7th through 12th grade.
Public health experts are concerned about the high risk of COVID-19 transmission among kids who aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet.
The sudden change before the start of school upset parents, some of whom made their feelings known at a recent board meeting.
“As much as I would have loved to march out this morning and bring down your attendance numbers, I remember that my children have a right to an education,” one parent said at the Aug. 18 meeting. “And just because they don’t want to wear a mask, which hasn’t even been made law, doesn’t make it okay for you to threaten and turn them away.”
A group of parents showed up with anti-mask signs and yelled at Superintendent Chris Gdowski a couple times when he tried to respond. Board President Kathy Plomer sought to quell the uproar a couple times. “We made sure everybody got to speak without being interrupted and we ask for the same courtesy,” Plomer said.
Most public commenters at the meeting opposed masks, though not all. One parent, who said he’s not usually the biggest proponent of masks, said to Gdowski and the board, “In the end, as long as you listen to experts and ignore the politics, I will 100% support your decision.”
As board members responded to the audience after public comments finished, the entire anti-mask parent group stormed out in protest.
Tri-County issued its order Aug. 17 to require masks for kids ages 2 to 11. The next day, Mapleton Public Schools announced it was reinstating its mask requirement for students in preschool through 6th grade. 27J Schools Superintendent Chris Fiedler sent a letter to parents Aug. 20 that it will require students ages 2 to 11 to wear masks. Westminster Public School has always required masks for all students. The Tri-County order took effect Aug. 23.