Saturday, June 12, 2021
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Colorado governor: Vaccinated teachers, students can skip masks

In light of new federal guidance, Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday that Colorado will phase out mask requirements in schools, with fully vaccinated teachers and students allowed to stop wearing masks now — if their districts agree.
“You can show your faces these last few weeks of school,” Polis said at a news conference updating the state’s mask rules.
Colorado has had a mask mandate for people 10 and older since July 15. Many but not all school districts also require younger students to wear masks in the classroom.
This week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks indoors but should still follow state and local rules.
Going forward, Colorado’s mask mandate is now a “mask suggestion,” Polis said. People who are vaccinated don’t have to wear a mask in most settings. People who are not vaccinated are strongly encouraged but not required to wear a mask.
Polis laid out a few exceptions. Until June 1, masks are still required in schools and child care centers, jails and prisons, and health care settings. However, school districts can choose to allow vaccinated students and staff to go without masks or maintain stricter mask policies.
“I’m excited because I never really liked wearing a mask very much,” Polis said. “I’m very happy to be fully vaccinated. It’s an immense relief to me and my family that we’re protected. While the pandemic isn’t over, as somebody who is vaccinated, for me, it is largely over, and if you’re vaccinated, for you, it is largely over.
“And if you are not vaccinated, please, feel the urgency of this moment, the fact that all these restrictions are going away June 1, to take that opportunity to get protected and end the pandemic for yourself and your family.”
An estimated 40% of Coloradans are fully immunized against COVID-19, according to state data. There are also significant differences based on race and ethnicity, with white people more likely to be vaccinated than Black or Hispanic Coloradans.
Teachers and school staff have had access to the COVID-19 vaccine since February, and state officials believe a majority are vaccinated. Students ages 16 and 17 became eligible in April. Students 12 to 15 years old just became eligible this week.
Children younger than 12 and people with certain medical conditions still cannot get vaccinated.
It’s not clear how many districts will change their policies in the final weeks of this school year. Support for mask-wearing varies widely around the state.
Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, said in an email that it will maintain mask requirements this school year and continues to work with public health officials on what the policy should be next year.
Similarly, the Greeley-Evans School District in Weld County said it will not make any changes.
“School is out next week for us and we are staying the course,” spokesperson Theresa Myers said in an email. “There is no way we can tell for sure who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. And we are still quarantining dozens of cohorts a week.”
Describing it as private health information, many school districts have not tracked the vaccination status of employees or students. While the Aurora school district has said it will require the vaccine for staff this fall, most school districts have not made a decision.
Polis said school employees or students who wish to keep their vaccination status private should continue to wear a mask, just like unvaccinated people.
The mask requirement also remains in effect through June 1 for gatherings of more than 500 people.
Polis said vaccination provides much better protection than masks and unvaccinated people should not rely on the “crutch” of other people wearing masks. Instead, he urged them to get vaccinated.
Polis said businesses can set their own policies — requiring masks, asking to see vaccination cards, or going by the honor system.
Regardless of your vaccination status, Polis said, you should wear a mask if asked to do so.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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