Important Update – Masks Required for PreK-6
August 13, 2021
Dear Cherry Creek Schools Community,
Over the past week, we have had frequent conversations with our partners at Tri-County Health Department about COVID-19 conditions and the surge of the more contagious Delta variant. Tri-County stated in a letter today that it is not safe for students younger than 12 years old to attend school without a mask, as they are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine at this time. View the letter from Tri-County in full here.
Here are the key points from Dr. John Douglas, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department:
- Transmission of COVID-19, exacerbated by the more transmissible Delta Variant, is highly likely in the school setting without high levels of mask wearing.
- Transmission in this setting would pose considerable risk, including:
- Risk to the health of children, especially those not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Risk of transmission to family and friends outside of the school setting, especially for those at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.
- Risk of interference with in-person learning due to isolation of positive cases and quarantine of children exposed in outbreak situations. This is particularly important toward our shared goal of maintaining a high-level of in-person learning with its positive impact on education, mental health, and social-emotional development of our children.
I have repeatedly stated that we will follow guidance from our health experts. During a conversation with Dr. Douglas this morning, he stated to me that the conditions in schools are presently not safe for unvaccinated children, particularly those younger than 12 years old, without masks. For this reason, Cherry Creek School District will require masks inside school buildings for all students PreK- 6 and the staff who work with this age group. More than 90% of students in sixth grade are in this age group, so we will be requiring masks for sixth grade students until further notice.
Safety is our highest priority, and the goal is to maintain in-person learning. This mask requirement will help us keep schools open and students in classrooms.
We want to emphasize that mask-wearing is an important and effective prevention strategy to keep students and staff safe. While masks are not mandatory for students in grade seven and above at this time, it is strongly recommended that all students and staff wear masks inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status.
As a reminder, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses regardless of vaccination status. The federal CDC order requires face masks on public transportation and at transportation hubs.
Additional Layered Prevention Strategies
Mask-wearing is just one critical prevention strategy we will use this year to keep students and staff healthy. The district will:
- Promote vaccination and offer access to vaccines for families who choose to have their eligible students receive it – more information here;
- Ongoing no-cost COVID-19 testing for students, staff and community;
- Communicate known positive COVID-19 cases to Tri-County Health Department so that they can contact trace with families appropriately;
- Sustain positive airflow through ventilation systems in schools;
- Continue high-touch cleanings on buses and in high-traffic areas of schools;
- Reinforce handwashing with students and staff; and
- Reinforce the importance of students and staff staying home if sick or experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
We will monitor conditions, follow local and state guidance regarding COVID-19, and make adjustments to our plan as needed.
The past year has taught us a lot about the perseverance of our kids, and we want to tap into the strengths of our community as we chart a path forward. From day one, we will focus on meeting the needs of every single student. Our mental health professionals and school counselors will be working with teachers to ensure that all students start the year off with the supports they need to thrive.
I am excited to welcome you back to school next week. It is going to be a great year full of learning, joy and personal growth.