Roaring Fork School District mask order lifts Monday

Darian Armer
For the Post Independent

It’s official: Roaring Fork School District will end its mask and quarantine mandates for staff and students on Monday, Feb. 28.

Superintendent Rob Stein informed the Roaring Fork School Board of the change to the district’s COVID protocols during its regular board meeting Feb. 23. The change comes after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) advised schools to transition to a “routine” disease control model for COVID-19, similar to other communicable diseases.

“People are ready for some good news, and I have it,” Stein said. “We are stopping universal masking and quarantining Feb. 28. We still want to create safe environments for staff and students who wish to wear masks.”

Stein said there will be caveats to the new policy, adding that there might be times when a cluster or outbreak occurs and the district may ask a classroom to mask up to prevent COVID from spreading to a school or back to the community. A cluster or outbreak is defined as two or more cases being traced to the school.

The school will still be enforcing isolation for sick individuals, not only for COVID, but all communicable diseases. Stein said the district also continues to support vaccination as an extra layer of protection.

Masks are also no longer required in district preschools.

“Preschools will pretty much follow the same procedures and protocols as K-12, that’s good news,” Stein said. “We’ve had some questions about trips and gatherings like assemblies and whether we’ll be able to have those. The answer is yes, we will be moving back to more normal activities. Assuming that the COVID levels remain low and that the healthcare system capacity remains as healthy as it has been over the past several weeks, we should be in good shape for the end of the school year.”

Masks will still be required on school buses. Federal law still requires students to wear masks on buses, whether that be to and from school or transportation provided by the district to games and other outings.

“We are cautiously removing layers, fully aware that the world may change again and we may have to add them back,” said Anna Cole, the district’s chief of student and family services. “We are maintaining a lot of the tracking and monitoring. Our nursing and health services teams are really strong. We’re going to be in close consultation with our public health departments.

“We really want to manage expectations. There may still be isolated quarantines and isolated group masking, depending on a case-by-case basis. We’ll see where we land in a couple of weeks, but we’re moving cautiously and optimistically in the right direction.”

Stein said the district’s website dashboard will remain available to families, but refined. The dashboard will still let the community know how many cases are in the schools. Parents, staff and students were to receive an updated COVID Health and Safety Plan by Friday.

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