November 29, 2021

WATCH LIVE: Tri-County Health to reconsider its opt-out policy, school mask mandate

Arapahoe County commissioners met earlier Monday to talk about their options on either sticking with the public health order or opting out.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — The Tri-County Health Department‘s school mask mandate is the subject of two meetings Monday, as Arapahoe County considers whether to join Douglas and Adams counties in opting out.

The Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) mandate was included in a public health order (PHO) that went into effect Aug. 23. It requires masking for staff and children in child-care centers and schools that serve students ages 2 to 12.

The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners held a study session at 1 p.m. Monday to discuss the county’s options regarding that public health order.

Later on Monday, at 4 p.m., TCHD will hold a special meeting of its Board of Health to reconsider its current opt-out policy and the school mask mandate.

The Arapahoe County commissioners board encouraged residents to submit their opinions ahead of their meeting in support of or against opting out out of the order, and they got 18,472 responses.

Of those respondents, commissioners said 45% supported staying with the TCHD public health order, and 55% wanted the county to opt out.

The commissioners heard from John Douglas, TCHD executive director, who presented data on COVID-19 cases and transmission in Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties. He explained why TCHD includes masks in its public health order, saying masks are 50% to 70% effective had preventing COVID-19 transmission.

For the most part,  commissioners didn’t indicate which way they would vote on an opt-out, except for Jeff Baker, who said he supports opting out of the mask mandate.

The board agreed to wait until the TCHD board holds its meeting later Monday because if the TCHD board gets rid of its opt-out option, than the question of whether Arapahoe County would opt out would be made moot.

If the TCHD board keeps the opt-out option, the Arapahoe County commissioners planned to vote at their meeting 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

The Arapahoe County meeting came after Douglas County and Adams County commissioners voted to opt out of the TCHD mask mandate, while the Douglas County School District said it would still follow the public health order and require masks. Adams 12 Five Star Schools also announced it didn’t plan to change its mask policy, despite the Adams County commissioners’ vote.

RELATED: DougCo Schools will require masks, despite commissioners opting out\

RELATED: Adams County commissioners opt out of mask mandate

According to the current opt-out policy, counties can opt out of the public health order on masks, but that doesn’t prevent schools from independently requiring masks.

The TCHD board meeting will be held via Zoom.

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