D20 parent pushes for more COVID mitigation measures

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Many students are returning from winter break amid a surge in omicron cases. Some districts have reinstated the mask mandate while others have not.

This comes after Children’s Hospital Colorado said this week has had the most kids hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. El Paso County is seeing a 25% increase in cases too.

Academy District 20 returns to in-person classes with masks encouraged but not required

On Dec. 30, 2021, a letter was sent to Academy School District 20’s legal counsel. The accommodation request is a precursor to a lawsuit. Lara Matisek and her attorney Josh Young hope the district will step up their mitigation measures for students with this recent surge of COVID cases.

“I want her to safely attend school in person,” Matisek said. “Being at home this long has taken a toll on her mental and social health and I’m certain there’ll be some academic loss as well.”

Matisek’s daughter Maddie has chronic asthma. Matisek said her daughter always wears a KN-95 mask despite getting vaccinated when she goes out in public. Due to her health condition, the fourth-grader has been homeschooling since March of 2020. Maddie received her final COVID vaccination shot after Thanksgiving and was excited to get back to in-person learning.

“We felt like this was the light at the end of the tunnel, we were getting back to school clothes doing all things that you do and then Omicron starts creeping in,” Matisek said. “By the time Josh and I sent the letter it was very obvious that taking away these mitigation measures it couldn’t have been at the worst time.”

In December of 2021, Academy School District 20 rolled back their mask mandate and school-imposed quarantines.

“One of the reasons to appeal it in the first place, the mask mandate was because cases were declining they’re not declining anymore they are skyrocketing and we aren’t seeing them revisit those decisions at all,” Attorney Josh Young added.

Without more measures in place, Maddie will once again have to stay home to reduce the risk of getting sick.

“One of her remarks to me was, ‘I’ve done everything right mom this isn’t fair, I feel like a pile of rocks and the world has forgotten about me,'” Matisek said. “For my 9-year-old to say that to feel like her community kind of has left her behind that’s disheartening and when there are things we could do.”

“We’re hoping they will do more than the absolute bare minimum that they will actually start following some of the guidelines that are being recommended by everyone from the state, to the federal government to EPCPH,” Young said. “The district policy needs to take into account the fact that there are kids and families with disabilities that suffer greatly when they eliminate these measures and don’t follow public health guidance.”

D20 wouldn’t provide a comment on this matter and declined FOX21 News request for an interview.

“That’s all I’m asking the school board to do is to take every measure available to keep our kids safe because doing anything less is a real disservice to them and our community,” Matisek said.

Young said the school district did receive the letter, and they don’t plan to wait long for a response before filing a lawsuit. D20 students return to in-person learning on Thursday.

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