AURORA, Colo. – Students in kindergarten through 8th grade at Aurora Public Schools will be required to wear masks indoors starting Monday, Superintendent Rico Munn said in a letter to parents, teachers and staff late Friday afternoon.
Effective Monday, Aug. 16, all students in Aurora Public Schools (APS) child development centers, elementary and K/P-8 schools as well as unvaccinated staff will be required to wear masks at school. Masks will continue to be strongly encouraged for all students in middle and high school.
“We recognize that some of you will be pleased with a stricter mask mandate while others may be upset,” Superintendent Rico Munn wrote in the letter announcing the new COVID-19 safety guidelines.
He said after conversations with the Tri-County Health Department on the evolving science around COVID-19, specifically the highly transmissible delta variant, the choice was either to add a stricter mask mandate on students who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, or implement strict quarantines for close contacts.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine has been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children 12 and up. EUA for kids younger than 12 could come in early to midwinter.
Munn said he opted for stricter mask mandates as “there would be significant and negative impacts if large groups of students were required to quarantine for 10 days” which would disrupt the district’s goal to keep in-person learning as much as possible.
The new guidelines also state that quarantines will be required for unvaccinated students and staff who are exposed to positive cases during what the district called “higher-risk extracurricular activities.” Sports, field trips, after-school band practices, choirs and performing arts groups fall within this category, according to district officials.
“We will continue to evaluate our layered approach and add or remove mitigation layers depending on current circumstances,” Munn wrote. “We are asking everyone in our community to work together as we adapt to changing guidelines.”
District officials reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and reiterated what they shared with staff last year: Once the vaccine receives FDA approval, all APS staff will be required to be vaccinated. They also encouraged staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested if they experience symptoms and urged anyone who may not feel way to stay home. Munn said free testing is. available for students and families.
The latest change in health guidelines announced by Aurora Public Schools is one of several from across the Denver metro area.
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