Parents oppose switch to block schedule, masks requirements |

Parents oppose switch to block schedule, masks requirements

Amid bursts of “cowards” and “you’re paid to mask our kids,” a small contingent of parents and locals voiced opposition during Wednesday’s Re-2 school board meeting to Rifle High School’s switch to a block schedule, an effort implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The switch was implemented just weeks into the new school year. Meanwhile, the opposition also took aim at mask requirements implemented between Aug. 26 and Sept. 7.

“(Teachers) have no idea how to deal with kids (anymore) or how to deal with people in-person,” Local parent Fathum Jensen said. “They stopped being teachers last year. They became mask police.”

Another local parent, Aime Powers, referred to the district’s COVID-19 regulations as fear-induced propaganda, saying the district “Acts as though they are the medical authority.”

“They are not,” she said.

When Rifle High School had the mask mandate in place, any students who refused to wear masks were sent to the office, Director of Communications Theresa Hamilton confirmed Thursday. If the student didn’t comply, they were sent home.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 protocols at Re-2 will become even less stringent once at least 70% of people between ages 12 and 18 in Garfield County receive at least their first dose of the vaccine, Hamilton said.

Other parents accused the district of forcefully having to follow COVID-19 protocols in order to attain Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, which are part of the CARES Act. So far, the district has received $574,562, most of which was used to hire and retain more substitute teachers, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said on Thursday that school districts across the country who chose to go to online learning during the 2020-2021 school were required to follow certain conditions to obtain ESSER funds. Re-2, however, was among the 17% of districts across the nation that maintained in-person learning the entire school year, which means the district did not have to follow conditions to get the grant monies.

“If there were any sort of requirements, we didn’t have to do them because we were open,” Hamilton said.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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