COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– Academy District 20 announced today in an e-newsletter to students, parents, faculty and staff that masks will be mandatory starting Monday, Sept. 27, for all students in preschool through 12th grade while in indoor classroom settings or other large group indoor gatherings.

The letter reads as follows:

“Academy District 20,

“We started this school year excited and looking forward to serving all students, in-person, five days per week. This is a tremendous improvement over how we started and ended the last school year. However, under current quarantine regulations in Colorado, it is increasingly difficult to keep students in school.

“I never imagined more than 2,000 students and staff would experience quarantines through the first six weeks of school. This equates to more than 300 students serving quarantines every week. Students have not only missed school, but have also been forced to miss athletic competitions, the High Trails experience, choir, band, theater, homecoming and other important programs and activities due to quarantines. Additionally, family schedules, parent work schedules, family income, and our teachers who are also parents have been negatively impacted. If we stay the current course, we risk larger numbers of students missing important activities that support their academic, social, emotional, and mental health. We cannot relive remote, online, and hybrid school as it was last year. 

“We need our students and staff in class, learning together, five days a week, without the continuous disruption we are experiencing.  Therefore, with the support of principals, we must introduce mask requirements.

“This is not a decision I take lightly, I make hastily, or I attempt to make pretending to be an expert on public health. I make this decision solely to offer a consistent educational experience to all students in all classrooms every day. We will continue to monitor the ever-changing environment and data and adjust as we can.

“Facial covering/mask requirement

“Starting Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, masking will be required for all students in preschool through 12th grade while in indoor classroom settings or other large group indoor gatherings.

“All faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of location and grade affiliation, are also required to wear face coverings while in the presence of others. Facial coverings can be removed temporarily in the classroom when it is instructionally appropriate.  Facial coverings/masks continue to be required on school buses per federal law.

“During passing periods – because students are not together for more than 15 minutes – facial coverings/masks may be removed until entering the next classroom.

“Facial coverings/masks will not be required outdoors, and principals are committed to providing adequate masking breaks throughout the day.

“Please note, the mask requirement will not change quarantines that are already in place.

“Facial coverings/mask exemptions

“Staff and students who are medically excused in writing are exempt from face covering requirements. This may include individuals who have, at the discretion of a medical professional:

  • medical or other health conditions,
  • mental or physical disabilities,
  • developmental or behavioral needs that make wearing a facial covering impossible in a learning environment.

“If a student refuses to wear a facial covering, and they do not have written medical exemption to wear a facial covering, the student will be reminded one is required. If the student continues to refuse to wear a facial covering, the parent/guardian will be contacted to discuss next steps. 

“Proper facial coverings/masks

“Please remember, facial coverings/masks must cover nose and mouth and be secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or wrapped around the lower face or neck. We will continue to provide access to facial coverings/masks if your student needs one.

“Additional safety layers

“We continue to promote improved cleaning and disinfecting protocols within our schools. We are also ensuring our HVAC systems are running at optimal levels and running more frequently.

“Most importantly, please screen your students for illness before sending them to school. Any symptoms of illness should result in students or staff staying home. We also encourage those who are eligible and willing to consider vaccination.

“As I have said before, I do not intend to debate the effectiveness of facial covering/mask-usage. The fact remains, under the current state regulations, universal masking, vaccination, and recent COVID-19 diagnosis are the only exemptions from quarantine. 

“I have met with representatives from the Governor’s office requesting changes to existing regulations and I have proposed alternatives to regulations, but with no success.  I will continue to work with local public health to propose and develop alternatives that could reduce quarantines going forward, without requiring face coverings.  I am frustrated by our current situation as it places public education in a no-win position. 

“I am committed to keeping students in school and in-person.  Attending school in-person supports academic, mental, social, emotional, and physical wellness and stability. It keeps our students engaged not only during the school day but also in important after-school activities.

“You can expect to receive additional information from your school soon.

“Now more than ever, we must come together and do all we can to support students and keep them in school. Thank you for your patience and support.

“Be safe and be well.

“Tom Gregory
Superintendent of Schools
Academy District 20″

To learn more about Academy District 20, click here.