Citing an uptick in positive COVID cases in El Paso County, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 has reinstated a mask mandate for all students, staff members and visitors while indoors until Jan. 28.

The district announced the requirement in a letter on Monday to staff and families, saying that since its return from winter break, the county has seen a 24% increase in positive cases.

In December, the district announced it was getting rid of masks.

The mask reinstatement started Wednesday, as the district said "wearing a facial covering or mask is required to be worn indoors in all district schools and facilities for all students, staff, and visitors, consistent with (the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) and (El Paso County Public Health) recommendations."

When students in Harrison School District 2 return from break on Thursday, they will be wearing masks, according to a message from superintendent Wendy Birhanzel. The district will re-evaluate positive cases and quarantines on Feb. 4, Birhanzel said.

“We never dropped our mask mandate,” district spokeswoman Christine O’Brien said in an email.

In a message to District 11 families, superintendent Michael Thomas said the district “will continue to honor parent and staff choices regarding the decision to wear facial coverings and/or to access vaccinations.” The 26,000-student district returned to school Wednesday.

Masks will be optional but “strongly encouraged” at Academy School District 20, which allowed its mask mandate to expire Dec. 13. The masking orders at Douglass Valley Elementary and Air Academy High School will remain in effect, per Air Force Academy mandate, according to district spokeswoman Allison Cortez.

District 49 will begin classes Thursday with no mask requirement, said spokesman David Nancarrow. Citing what they believed to be overly-aggressive state and county COVID-19 mitigation protocols, district leadership began the 2021-2022 school year without a mask mandate.

Widefield School District 3 opened classes Wednesday without a mask requirement. Manitou Springs School District 14 will require its students, staff and visitors to wear masks when they return to school Thursday, according to superintendent Elizabeth Domangue.

All local districts will continue to require masks on school buses in accordance with the federal directive.

Editorial assistant

Chhun Sun is The Gazette's morning breaking news reporter. A Thailand-born Cambodian-American, he joined The Gazette's staff in April 2015 — covering everything from public safety to sports and outdoors to local/state politics.

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