With rising Covid-19 numbers in the Cañon City School District finally showing a decrease, the Fremont County Board of Health has decided against implementing a consent order between the two agencies that would have required universal masking in schools.

After due consideration, the FCBOH has decided that a public health order, whether or not by consent, is not an appropriate manner of proceeding. The Cañon City School District is a governmental entity, controlled by elected officials on the Board of Education. The Board of Health does not operate or manage schools. The Board of Education for School District and its superintendent of schools are in the best position to determine how the schools in the District should be operated, and the Fremont County Department of Public Health and Environment is prepared and available to assist them with implementation of any mitigation strategies the Board of Education wishes to impose.

“The conversation on Nov. 23 was a last resort,” said FCBOH Chair Dwayne McFall. “We did come to a sort of verbal consensus with the superintendent and school board president at that time. However, the Board of Health hopes this requirement is not necessary and the district will step up its protocols to protect the students, the staff, and the entire community.”

FCBOH supports and prioritizes uninterrupted, full-time, in-person learning in all school districts. Observing and following best practices for prevention of Covid-19, and using mitigation strategies to control spread when an outbreak of Covid-19 occurs is the most effective means to ensure continuation of in-person learning.

The Cañon City School District has been provided full Covid-19 information, advised that community spread of RSV and Covid-19 is emanating from the District and has received a very strong recommendation for masking from the Fremont County Board of Health and the Fremont County Public Health Director. On its website, the district recognizes that masks remain the single most effective way to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and a host of other diseases, including RSV, colds and flu.

“We all agree kids need to be in school,” McFall said. “But, if they are sick or under quarantine, they should stay home and be able to attend remotely until ready to return to the classroom.”

The original discussion included a masking requirement through Jan. 25. Other language specified the district would comply with reporting of Covid-19, case investigations, quarantining, isolation, and other mitigation strategies as deemed necessary by the public health agency.

“We hope the conversation will ultimately make everyone, including parents, more aware of best-practice protocols with Covid-19,” McFall said.