Surgical Masks

South Routt school board resists request for mask mandate from medical officials

Sheila Symons’ son got COVID-19 around Labor Day. He has since missed about five weeks of school, spent five days at Children’s Hospital in Aurora and has seen more doctors than an 11-year-old child should.

“My son has missed everything,”Symons spoke to the South Routt Board of Education Tuesday night, sometimes through tears. “An entire basketball season, he hasn’t seen his friends; he hasn’t done anything fun in five weeks except cry.”

The doctors don’t have many answers, she said, apart from that it is related to her son’s COVID-19 diagnosis and that other children’s hospitals are seeing similar cases in young children.

Symons went to public comment to make a public service announcement to other parents about what her son had been through. She also asked the district’s leadership to consider a mask mandate.

“A mask could help. It may not, but it could,”Symons stated. “Last year, they were healthier because they were in masks.”

South Routt Medical Center’s health officials requested that the board also put in a new proposal. maskMandat in place at the school. This is their second request to the board since the 2021-22 school years.

Neither Symons’ story nor the health officials’ request spurred the board to consider a mask mandate.

The board thanked Dr. Barbra Novatny and Ken Rogers, medical center District Manager Ken Rogers, and moved on without further discussion to the next agenda point. In the almost four-hour-long meeting, they did not return to the topic.

No one, no matter their age, has to wear a shirt. mask in South Routt schools. District recommends that staff and students not vaccinated wear a maskBut it is not necessary.

According to district data, 42 cases of COVID-19 have been reported within the school since the school opened. Five cases were reported by employees, with 13 at the high school, and 13 at the middle school. There were also 13 at the elementary school, as well as 13 at the middle school. One case was among preschoolers.

Novotny stated that about 30% of COVID-19 test results from South Routt Medical Center are positive right now. Rogers stated last month that COVID-19 has never been worse in South Routt.

It’s worse now.

Novotny stated that the center was performing about 80 COVID-19 test per month at this time last year. They are now testing 150 people a week since August, half of which are children under 17 years old. Adults test positive more often than children. Children are positive about 9% of all the time.

According to county public healthcare, the South Routt County’s incidence rate is 20% higher than Steamboat’s October rate. The rate of vaccination in South Routt county is 49%, which compares to the 79% rate for the entire county.

“I totally realize that (requiring masks) is really controversial and political, and I think it stinks that health care has to be political right now, because that is not my job for sure,”Novotny spoke. “Masking really can cut down on the spread of COVID.”

Novotny shared data and links with the board, including information on the effectiveness of masking. One study she shared showed that masking was effective in reducing the risk of cancer. maskIncreased ventilation is five times more effective in preventing COVID-19 from spreading. This measure is being taken by the school to stop the spread of the disease. virus.

Although board members asked Rogers and Novotny questions during the meeting they did not engage with their request to put a question. maskMandat in place. The only thing that remains is masks from the board was about the negative affect of wearing one — of which Novotny said there are not any significant ones.

“Masking works, hand washing works, distancing works, quarantine works. They all work the best when they work together,” Rogers said. “We just can’t come up here and say, ‘Make everybody wash their hands, and this will all go away.’ It’s an all-of-the-above thing.”

Colette Burris, a board member speculated that testing has increased because people are more sensitive than COVID-19. Rogers said that if that were true they would be seeing more negative results. He stated that the opposite is most likely true.

“I think not enough people are coming and getting tested,” Rogers said. “Anecdotally, we hear about folks who get exposed, should be tested, and they don’t come in.”

Burris tried reassure the health officials by stating that the board does discuss COVID-19 at every meeting. Superintendent Rim Watson presented data to them.

“Every regular meeting we have, our wonderful superintendent provides us a COVID report with statistics and data,” Burris said. “We’re constantly discussing it.”

The board did NOT discuss COVID-19, nor did they consider any mitigation protocols being changed in schools or address the suggestion to add a maskDuring its Tuesday meeting.

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