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Mask order implemented for Fremont County School District RE-1

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Starting Monday, Nov. 29, all students in Fremont County School District RE-1 will be required to wear a mask on school grounds.

During a meeting Tuesday with the Fremont County Health Department, Board of Health, and RE-1 School District, officials presented a new 60-day mask order for the district.

Initially, Fremont County Public Health Director Kayla Marler brought a public health order to the meeting. Instead, a consent order was agreed upon by the parties present.

A consent order is a joint decision with enforcement handled by the school district, while a public health order would mean the order is law and enforcement would be handled by local law agencies.

Fremont County officials decided to implement a mask mandate due to the high transmission rates in RE-1 district schools.

"All the locations within RE-1 are considered in an outbreak in an outbreak status," Marler said. "We have exhausted all of our resources too and recommendations to help RE-1 decrease the high infection rate in their school's district."

Below is data given to KRDO by Health Director Marler on Wednesday comparing cases in people 5-18 in 2020 to now.

Via Kayla Marler, Nov. 24, 2021

The mask mandate is already being met with backlash.

Sean Meagher, a parent of a senior in RE-1, expressed frustration with the new order. He claims it won't benefit kids once they leave school grounds.

"When the kids are in school, they hang out together, they have the mask on, what do they do when they walk out? They take the mask off," Meagher said.

He added his wife is also a teacher in RE-1. She was not made aware of the written mask order until it had hit social media. He went on to say he disagrees with the decision, saying it was "hastily" agreed upon.

"To impose those kinds of things on others is immoral, it's unjust and as a parent, I should be allowed to make decisions for what is best for my child. Not only their physical health but as well as their emotional and social health as well," Meagher said.

KRDO asked Public Health Director Marler why Fremont County waited months after schools districts in El Paso County and Pueblo County created public health orders requiring masks in schools.

"It's different demographics, completely different demographics. We have been working really closely with our schools," said Marler. "In RE-2 and RE-3 we are not seeing that high of transmission so we are not needing to put anything into place for those schools districts."

Marler also highlighted differences in RE-1 compared to RE-2 and RE-3 in their mitigation strategies and efforts.

"RE-1 school district is our biggest populated school district, so that does play into it. They have worked really hard to implement mitigation strategies," Marler said.

At this time, Marler said there have been no conversations about enforcing a mask mandate throughout all of Fremont County.

The mask order will go into effect Monday, November 28th. It will run until the end of January.

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Sean Rice

Sean is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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