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Douglas County Board of Health issues Public Health Order allowing parents to exempt their children from student mask mandate

Order applies to children and adults in educational settings

The Douglas County Board of Health today issued a countywide Public Health Order allowing individuals to be exempted from requirements to wear a face covering within Douglas County.

The Order also makes it impermissible in most cases to quarantine a child within Douglas County due to actual, suspected or potential exposure related to COVID-19 if the individual is asymptomatic.

The order takes effect on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and remains in effect until Dec. 31, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. unless extended, rescinded or amended in writing by the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD). The Department will monitor and evaluate COVID-19 data and community conditions daily while this Order is in effect.

Following the Board of Health meeting, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners issued the following statement:

“The goal and purpose of this Order is to ensure that efforts to control and slow the spread of COVID-19 are calibrated to produce the greatest health benefit to the people targeted by such efforts and to the entire Douglas County community,” said Lora Thomas, County Commissioner, Board Chair and Vice President of the Douglas County Board of Health.

“There is insufficient data to suggest that schools and childcare facilities – including those that do not require students to be masked – are significant drivers of community transmission of COVID-19,” said George Teal, County Commissioner, and a member of the Douglas County Board of Health.  “Attempting to use children as a shield against spread in the community by masking or ineffectually quarantining asymptomatic children will pose greater mental health risks to a much larger number of children resulting in a far more negative overall impact to the community,” Teal said.

“Our Board is concerned about the growing mental and emotional health issues for our school-aged children,” said Abe Laydon, Douglas County Commissioner and Board Vice Chair. “The overall physical and mental health of every child should drive consideration of COVID-19 mitigation measures and all available and credible COVID-19 science and guidance should be relied upon to this end,” Laydon said.

The Public Health Order also noted that nothing in the order should be construed to deny an individual the right to wear a face covering as they reasonably see fit, and nothing in the order should be construed to grant an exemption to federal or state-issued requirements to wear face coverings.

For additional information about public health services in Douglas County visit douglas.co.us and search: public health services.

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