Mandate Mistakes or Misguided Masking?


Reported Covid Cases in Colorado 2020 – Present From NY Times

Aidan Janney, Staff Editor

The initial policy at the start of the 2021-2022 school year had defined benchmarks for mask mandates to be instituted for all District 11 schools. If El Paso County reached a seven-day average of 300 COVID-19 cases per day, all D11 high school students and teachers would be required to wear masks in the interest of public health and continuing in-person classes. Right now, El Paso County has reached a seven-day average of around 1,900 cases per day, and there is no requirement for any face coverings to be worn in class.
This new position regarding mask mandates was originally instituted in mid-December the week before District 11’s winter break. This also coincided with the first terms for three newly-elected board members who ran on conservative platforms: Reverend Al Loma, Sandra Bankes and Lauren Nelson. The official message from the District 11 Return to Learn platform cited vaccine availability and decreasing cases in El Paso county as the original reasons for the new policy in December, but since then COVID cases have risen extremely quickly. Additionally, around 67% of Colorado is fully vaccinated, but this still leaves over 33% of the population susceptible to the most severe side effects of COVID-19 that may result in hospitalization. Children under the age of 12 also still have restricted access to the vaccine.
The pandemic has persisted for nearly two years, and many institutions and individuals are tiring of the extended mask mandates, health concerns, and delays to the return of pre-pandemic life. Fatigue in the face of current conditions is a real and understandable challenge, but with COVID cases rising again, the presence of the new Omicron variant, and a still significant gap in vaccination, the motives and potential political influence behind public and education-related health decisions must be carefully examined.

El Paso COVID Case Data – NY Times
D11 Dissolves Equity/Information About D11 School Board – Gazette
D11 Return to Learn –
Colorado Vaccination Rates – Our World in Data
Your District 11 School Board –