Mask Mandate Update – All Students and Staff to Wear Face Masks for In-Person Learning at STEM

Dear STEM School Highlands Ranch Families,

Last night the Board of Health for Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) met and voted to amend the current Public Health Order to require all students and staff to wear a mask in K-12 schools.

You can read more about the update on the TCHD website by clicking here.

Starting on Wednesday, Sept. 1, any student who attends in-person learning at STEM will have to wear a mask. STEM Staff will also be required to wear a face mask. We understand that this news may frustrate some in our community, and we are asking for you to please show kindness to our entire STEM staff as they are not the ones making the decision to create the Health Order, rather they are the ones that have to follow it and help our students follow it.

Students and staff should bring their own face covering (however, masks will be made available upon request). Click here for information on how to select the most effective masks and how to wear masks correctly and consistently for the best protection. Students will be able to remove their masks during lunch, recess and outdoor breaks.

The STEM Board of Directors and the Leadership Team strongly believe that keeping our doors open for in-person learning is so important for the mental health and wellbeing of our students and our staff. Wearing a mask is a small concession to remain open as a school.  If our teaching and non-teaching staff are out due to illness or mandated quarantine, it puts a great strain on our ability to operate safely and adds stress on our students and staff.

Having to send a class, grade-level or a school to virtual learning due to an outbreak is not the goal, so the STEM Board of Directors and the Leadership Team believe that complying with the mask mandate is the best course of action to help keep our doors open.

We will honor mask-wearing exemptions for students who cannot tolerate a face covering with a medical exemption provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Please contact nurse@stemk12.org for next steps.

In the coming months, it is anticipated that the COVID vaccine will be made available to children ages 2-11. Health experts advise that vaccination will be a critical mitigation factor moving forward.

STEM will also continue with the following layered approach to COVID mitigation:

  • Encouraging frequent hand washing and providing access to hand sanitation stations.
  • Continuing with increased ventilation in buildings.
  • Encouraging outdoor learning and activities where possible.
  • Disinfecting frequently.
  • Implementing physical distancing where possible.
  • Providing families and staff with information about COVID vaccination and testing opportunities.
  • Notifying families when their student may have been exposed to COVID so they may screen for symptoms and access COVID testing if desired.
  • Notifying staff members when they may have been exposed to COVID so they may screen for symptoms and access COVID testing if desired.

It is critical to note that the protocols listed above will be most effective with the partnerships of our families and staff. Please continue to do your part by keeping students home, and/or staying home yourself, when showing symptoms of illness. Please reference this symptom screening document for guidance on when it is safe to return to school after illness.

We will continue to keep you all updated as information changes. Please email communications@stemk12.org with any questions.

Thank you,

Your STEM Leadership Team

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