Important update to start of school guidance

Monday, August 16, 2021 - 2:45pm

Masks required for all students in grades P-6

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The following letter was sent to the Five Star community on Friday, Aug. 13.

To read our health and safety protocols for the 2021-2022 school year, please click here.

Dear Five Star Community,

I'm writing today to inform you of a change to masking requirements for our students that will go into effect on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. The Broomfield Department of Public Health issued a public health order today requiring children aged 2-11 wear masks indoors while in school and child care settings, and we understand that the governing board for Tri-County Public Health plans to consider a similar order at a meeting on Monday.  

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools will require all students in preschool through sixth grade to wear masks indoors, regardless of what county the school is located in. In light of the challenges in monitoring and enforcing the 11 and under mask requirement for students in sixth grade, we will require all sixth graders to mask. 
  • We will continue to strongly encourage students in grades 7-12 to wear masks.
  • All staff will continue to wear masks while indoors, given our interest in minimizing preventable staff COVID absences and maintaining continuity in instruction and services.

Background Leading Up to This Decision

It is an understatement to acknowledge that there are divergent and very strong feelings held by community members about whether masks should be mandated in schools. 

The leaders at Broomfield and Tri-County Public Health have earned my respect in how they evaluate COVID risk in the school setting and the sources they consult in making those judgments. They appropriately weigh the information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, while also considering unique conditions and factors within our local communities. 

An important source in this risk assessment for these leaders has been the opinion of medical experts, including pediatricians in our state. The Colorado chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics, whose membership includes more than 800 pediatricians, urged local public health executives this week to mandate masking in schools. That recommendation has been a meaty part of my conversations with public health leaders this week and has carried significant weight. 

These pediatricians hear, see and can evaluate the various points shared with me by staff and parents but at a much bigger scale; collectively they serve hundreds of thousands of students. In their appointments they hear from children and parents with a variety of impacts and concerns related to COVID and masking; everything from concerns about depression, anxiety, and inhibitions about speaking through a mask at school to the COVID impacts they've seen for children with asthma, compromised immune systems, pulmonary conditions and beyond. 

Their judgment, after meeting with and treating so many children in our state, and evaluating the comparative risks and benefits of masking, is that mandatory masking best serves the health needs of children in our state. I recognize it’s a position with which individual parents may disagree, but at a macro level it is one that I find reasonable.

Moving Forward Collectively for the Benefit of Our Students

I appreciate those who have read through all of what I have shared here. I could have sent a  shorter communication in which I said that we're changing our masking policy because public health is making us do so; but given the thoughtful and moderate manner in which they've approached all of the hard decisions we've faced over the past year and a half that didn't seem right.  

As we enter the weekend and prepare for the first day of school with our students next week, my hope is that we choose to focus upon the many positive opportunities for students compared to a year ago: consistent in-person schooling with limited quarantine requirements; athletic and activities seasons that are not truncated and allow spectators; broad opportunities to interact with a variety of students and staff in a school outside of a small cohort; opportunities to gather as school communities for Back to School nights and student assemblies; and the opportunity to reconnect students who were in remote and in person tracks last year, and who have badly missed one another.

Our students have missed out on so much the past two school years because of this pandemic.  My hope is that we all join together to send them into this school year with love, support and encouragement.

Sincerely,

Chris Gdowski
Superintendent