Jeffco’s Mask Mandate


J. Eve McLaury, Writer

Jefferson County’s new mask mandate requires masks to be worn indoors at school and has been a hot topic for students and faculty at Chatfield recently. This summer, it was a nice break to think that the Corona Virus was dying down with vaccination rates going up, and it was looking as if a no-mask policy was going to be implemented throughout Jeffco schools. Sadly, with the new predominant strain, SARS-CoV-2 (Delta strain), sweeping the United States and infecting those who are and aren’t vaccinated, Jefferson County, along with many others, decided to mandate masks again.

I interviewed students and faculty at Chatfield to ask for their opinion about how they feel about having to wear masks. Some students felt relieved while others were distraught about the mandate. A junior, Chloe Metz, said that she felt like the mandate was necessary, but was disappointed because she was looking forward to a more “normal year.” To describe it, she said that when she heard the news, it felt like a “punch in the gut.” Another student, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that it seemed excessive to have us students wear masks when many groups of friends have been hanging out all summer and been in close contact. A few students agreed there are places such as the mall or an indoor restaurant where many students are more likely to contract COVID than a school environment. The way students participate in out-of-school activities makes the mandate seem irrelevant when someone is more likely to get COVID through a huge party or social gathering.

In my interview with Assistant Principal Mr. Thanos, he cleared up the questions that everyone has been wondering about. There is no quarantining at all unless students are unvaccinated and are not wearing a mask, and if students refuse to cooperate without an exemption, a discipline matrix will be put in place to decide punishment. Right now, it isn’t certain when and if we will return to no masks because it allows classrooms to be full all the time every day. If we were to have a COVID case right now without masks, we would have to quarantine people in close contact in 7-8 classes. As is the case for most people, Mr. Thanos dislikes wearing a mask, but likes that they are keeping us in school and allowing us to communicate and work in groups. In his mind, he thinks that the benefits of wearing a mask outweigh the negatives. 

Neither staff nor students have their vaccination records at school, but if Chatfield were to think they had a positive case, they would contact Jeffco public health to find out who to send home. Shutting down the school would take an outbreak, which is five separate cases where it looks like the virus is being passed on to other people. Unless we see a significant spike from what we are seeing now, an outbreak seems unlikely, but anything can happen. 

With all the uncertainty from last year, coupled with people getting on board to get vaccinated, it looks like there is more hope for a close to normal year.