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Pueblo School District 70 asks Pueblo to reconsider school mask mandate

District 70
Posted at 11:26 AM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 01:36:09-05

PUEBLO — The newly elected members of the Board of Education for Pueblo School District 70 are asking the city to "reconsider" the mandate on students in Pueblo County.

"This is a health choice and I don’t necessarily think that we as parents should be forced into a mandate," said Anne Ochs, the Board President.

The new Board of Education views the measures currently set in place by the city as "detrimental" to the children in the district, and they claim that the "duty of keeping kids in school" should be left to the school district.

The Board says further that the "decision to mask or vaccinate children should solely rest on the students, their parents, and their doctors."

One D70 father believes "the board members are doing what they were elected to do".

"Take the power from the board of health and give it back to us the parents. It's our choice to choose whether or not we want to send our child to school with a mask."

Another D70 parent says she does not believe the board got enough input from parents before sending the letter.

"If they have to wear a mask just to be in school... I don't see any problem with that."

Cases are trending down in Pueblo County, but even if they were not, the Board said that "forcing the schools to adhere to a mandate that would never be influential enough to change the trend of the community case load is unrealistic.

Three options were outlined in the Board of Health's Work Session on December 10:

  1. Keep Public Health Order in place with no change
  2. Modify the Public Health Order
  3. End the Public Health Order

The decision ultimately lies in the hands of Public Health Director Rand Evetts, who says he is leaning towards Option 2.

Outline of Option 2: Modify the Public Health Order

Still, ICUs are under serious strain. According to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health, the state ICU capacity remains at 94%. In the Southern Medical Region that Pueblo falls under, the percentage of ICU beds available is just 3%.

One local doctor at the Board of Health meeting voiced his disapproval of the idea to end the mandate.

"Trying to get people to voluntarily implement these strategies was not successful at the beginning of the school year."

It was only a month ago that Pueblo's Parkview Medical Center became the first hospital in Colorado to request help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The board claims that the community is "tired of being forced to adhere to mandates" that are ineffective compared to "the despair that they are causing to students and our community."

The board further says that the "mandates (offer) questionable effectiveness, while (being) unable to demonstrate the positive effectiveness of masks." However, a number of studies indicate that masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

The Board finished their letter by requesting an "immediate" removal of the mandates and for the decisions on mandates to be left with the district.
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