PUEBLO — Parents in Cañon City will need to make sure their child has a mask with them before heading out the door to school on Monday.
The Fremont County Health Department, School District Re. 1, and the Board of Health are agreeing to a "consent order" requiring students in Cañon City schools wear masks for 60 days of school beginning on November 29.
"This is not easy. This is not something that we wanted to do, it's something that we had to do," said Kayla Marler, the Public Health Director for Fremont County.
The Health Department stressed that the "consent order" is different from a mask mandate, saying the School District will be tasked with enforcing the requirement.
According to data from the health department, Fremont County has seen 301 cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days. Of the 301 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 203 were detected in Cañon City.
"Right now all of the school locations within Re. 1 are in a confirmed outbreak," said Marler.
Marler noted one of her biggest concerns is the possibility of students coming back from holiday breaks and spreading the virus in schools with already-high transmission rates.
However, parents on social media are voicing their disapproval of the new requirement.
"We don't want to take anybody's rights away, absolutely not. But we do have an ethical responsibility to protect our students and our teachers," said Marler.
Other parents are "excited" about the requirement, like Garrett Filler. Filler's 13-year old son has been wearing his mask voluntarily at Harrison K-8 since the school year began.
"Some kids were being really kind of rude to him about his mask," said Filler.
The school district says if a student attends school without a mask, they will be provided one to wear or sent home.
The health department says the time frame gives them two weeks after students return from winter break in January to assess the situation. They hope to see a downward trend in COVID-19 cases in schools during those two weeks, and plan on revisiting the order then.
Language for the order is still being finalized.