(The following is a letter to the community from the Poudre School District Superintendent)
Dear PSD community,
I am hopeful and inspired to partner with you to make this a great school year for our students and families. The first day of school is only two short weeks away, and we’re excited to welcome students back to classrooms full-time.
As promised, this is an update about PSD’s COVID-19 protocols for fall 2021. Starting Aug. 5, we will require masks in PSD buildings for all staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
I know some of you will be angry about this decision, while others may feel a deep sense of relief. Whether you agree or disagree, I value you and want to remain transparent about how we made our decision.
Our priorities are safety and keeping kids in school. We want to provide a dynamic learning environment for students and minimize quarantines. We are also using data and public health guidance to be responsive, meaning that we monitor PSD-specific, Larimer County, state and national data.
As I shared in my last update, we have been grappling with the changing conditions and what they mean for our mask protocols. One of the biggest challenges I have heard was how difficult quarantines were for everyone. Our goal is to keep kids in school. The easiest way to do that is to wear masks. When masks are worn appropriately, they’re extremely effective at protecting both you and me.
A lot of you may ask why. Why now? What’s changed? The short answer is the Delta variant. It’s more contagious, it’s spreading and it’s impacting both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. With our increased case rates and current vaccination rate, Larimer County is now considered high risk. The benchmarks set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that we need additional protective measures. And truth be told, even though we’ve done everything in our power to keep our community safe, we need to do more.
Please know that we will re-evaluate this decision when we reach improved health conditions in the county and in our schools. We also need to see Larimer County vaccination rates go up to get out of the current high-risk category.
We need to come together as a community to prioritize keeping our kids in school. You can do this by wearing your mask, washing your hands, following PSD’s health and safety protocols, and getting vaccinated if it’s right for your family.
The beginning of school is a time of celebration and belonging. This news may be discouraging, but let’s not lose sight of why we’re here: to be hopeful, to be inspired, and to make sure every child learns every day.
Thank you for your continued partnership.