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Debate over masks in JeffCo schools reignites over new county health guidance

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Posted at 10:46 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 12:23:38-04

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Parents in Jefferson County are finding themselves factionized once again over new guidance surrounding masks in schools.

Some parents say they are fed up with social distancing and masks for their kids, while other parents say the guidelines do not go far enough.

The guidelines for Jefferson County Schools state that children ages 3-11 must wear a mask at all times while in school. Students over the age of 12 who are vaccinated are recommended to wear a mask. The school district does not require students and staff who are over the age of 12 and unvaccinated to wear a mask, but they are "strongly recommended" to do so.

"Not again. That was my first response," said Desi Rogers, who created a petition against mask mandates in schools. "Kids should not have to deal with this stuff. They're too young."

But not all parents are against the guidelines. Some say the rules do not go far enough.

"From a community standpoint, I think they could have done more," said Kathryn Eterno, who started Covid Concious Classrooms, an advocacy group for coronavirus safety guidelines in Jefferson County Schools. "I think there's reason to still be concerned."

Eterno, along with many members of her online group, are concerned that the guidelines do little to ensure anyone over the age of 12, including students and teachers, will wear a mask. Her greatest concern, she says, is the spread of a strain like the delta variant that could put school progress at risk and threaten the lives of family members at home.

"I'm not necessarily so worried about the health of my two children, but I'm extremely worried about the risk that they pose to their grandmother," Eterno said. "When we make these kind of public health decisions, they aren't individual choices. They're community choices. That's just how these things work."