Cherry Creek district recommends masks but won’t require them

Lunden Augusta, left, Gabriel Watkins, center, and Lucy White watch Philonise Floyd react to the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of his brother, George Floyd, during a discussion between Northfield High School student council officers and members in Denver, Colorado, on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The Cherry Creek district will recommend, but not require masks for students and staff this fall. (Eli Imadali for Chalkbeat)

The Cherry Creek school district will not require students or staff to wear masks at school this fall, but district officials strongly encouraged face coverings in a letter sent Wednesday to families. 

The district, Colorado’s fourth largest with 54,000 students, is the latest to release guidance on masks for the coming year, as coronavirus infections surge due to the Delta variant. The state’s two largest districts also released mask guidance in recent days, with Denver requiring masks for all students and staff, and Jeffco requiring masks for students under 12 and unvaccinated employees. The 37,000-student Adams 12 district north of Denver announced Friday that masks will be optional for students but required for staff regardless of vaccination status. 

In Cherry Creek, the only place masks for students and staff are required is on buses, in keeping with a federal order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The state’s back-to-school mask guidance recommends that districts either require masks for unvaccinated students and staff, or all students and staff. 

Mask requirements at schools have drawn both praise and criticism from families since schools began adopting them last year. Some parents and educators say the practice provides one more layer of protection against the coronavirus — and some peace of mind. Others say masks can be stifling and hinder communication between teachers and students. 

About 300 Jeffco parents protested the district’s mask policy outside the county’s public health offices Wednesday, the Denver Post reported. They carried signs that read “Unmask our children. Let kids be kids,” “No masks, no silly rules” and “Smiles are contagious.”

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