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DougCo health department gives parents authority to exempt kids from school mask mandates

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The newly-formed Douglas County Board of Health voted Friday to give parents the authority to decide if their kids need to wear masks at schools with a new public health order.

The order states that “certain children shall be exempt from any requirement to wear a Face Covering within Douglas County, if that child’s parent/guardian presents to any person or entity charged with enforcing and/or supervising such a requirement to wear a Face Covering, a written declaration, signed by the parent or guardian of the child, requesting to be exempted from the requirement to wear a Face Covering due to the negative impact on that individual’s physical and/or mental health.”

This is only if there is no requirement by other state or federal mandates.

The order also states “No child in Douglas County, regardless of age, shall be required to quarantine because of exposure to a known COVID-19 positive case unless the exposure is associated with a known Outbreak or otherwise required by superseding state or federal mandate.”

An amendment was passed clarifying the order also applies to adults, after lengthy public comment advocating for teachers to have the same right in Douglas County schools. The order takes effect Saturday, Oct. 9 at 12:01 a.m.

FOX31 and Channel 2 reached out to the Douglas County School District for comment on the new health order. We are waiting to hear back.

“We have all the faith in the world the district will obey a legal public health order,” George Teal, the Douglas County District 2 commissioner and Board of Health secretary, said. 

You can watch the full discussion on FOX31 NOW.

DougCo Board of Health: How did we get here?

Ever since last month, when the Tri-County Health Department mandated masks for all students ages 2 and older, some parents have been upset, protesting and lobbying Douglas County commissioners to find a way around that mandate.

And the commissioners did — by voting to leave Tri-County and make their own health department.

Tri-County will continue providing public health services through the end of 2022, although Douglas County won’t have any representatives on its board.

But the new Douglas County Board of Health will control its own public health policy — including anything to do with COVID-19.

Of course, there are plenty of parents and other doctors who believe this is a bad, and potentially dangerous, idea.

Case in point: Douglas County had about 180 confirmed covid cases for every 100,000 people last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers that a “high spread community,” where everyone is highly recommended to wear a mask.

Douglas County currently has the second-highest amount of outbreaks linked to schools, with 25 since Aug. 1.

But the new health board says decisions should not be made just on those statistics.

DougCo health department gives parents authority to exempt kids from school mask mandates