Colorado recommends but won’t require K-12 staff, students to wear masks

The Colorado state health department revised its guidance for the upcoming K-12 academic year Friday evening, recommending that school districts consider requiring masks for all staff and students as the delta variant rapidly spreads.

The new guidance, which does not mandate masks in schools, still gives schools the option of mandating face coverings for unvaccinated students, according to the news release.

“We all want children to be back at school and as safe as possible. Masks will help us slow the spread of the Delta variant and avoid school closures,” state epidemiologist Rachel Herlihy said. “Masks are an added layer of protection, as we hope that even more children ages 12+ will get vaccinated.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that vaccinated people wear face coverings indoors in counties where there are high transmission rates after new data showed vaccinated people can spread the delta variant of the coronavirus.

As the school year quickly approaches, the state updated its initial July 20 guidance for schools and now follows federal recommendations that all teachers, staff, students and others wear masks in K-12 schools.

A few Denver metro districts have shared their guidance, with Jeffco Public Schools announcing Friday that students ages 3-11 will have to wear masks. Littleton Public Schools and the Douglas County School District will not require employees or students to wear face coverings.

But Aurora Public Schools is “strongly” recommending masks for unvaccinated students and will require them for unvaccinated staff. The public school districts in Denver and Boulder have not yet said whether there’ll be requirements.

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