East Grand to remove mask mandate beginning Jan. 17 | SkyHiNews.com

East Grand to remove mask mandate beginning Jan. 17

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove a detail about Ed Raegner’s previous vote. He was not on the board when the board voted to institute a mask mandate.

The East Grand School District Board of Education has voted to make masks optional at the schools beginning Jan. 17.

The school board voted Tuesday 4-2 to make masks optional on Jan. 17, with board members Becky Jacobson and Justin McGuan opposing. Board President Ed Raegner, Trevor Corbin, Chris Raines and newly sworn in member Ted Reade voted in favor of removing the mandate.

The biggest question Tuesday night was what the “end game” for the mask mandate would look like. Board members agreed that while student safety and as few classroom interruptions as possible is the goal, they had different views of when that would be.

“Quarantining is the most harmful things to kids academically and socially,” Raegner said.

The school board’s conversation revolved around the changing guidance for quarantining with the district set to begin optional serial testing this week. Those in favor of removing the mask requirement emphasized that, along with students and staff still having the option to wear masks, vaccinations and weekly testing further reduce the possibility of quarantining or isolating.

Additionally, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on length of quarantining reduces the overall number of days a student or staff member would be out of class if they are not displaying symptoms.

Mask Optional Contact Tracing Flow Chart

For Jacobson, who is a pediatric nurse practitioner, quarantining and community spread was the biggest factor to consider. She said seeing county cases dropping below the severe level would make her feel more comfortable removing the district mask mandate.

“I was hopeful at our last meeting that we could maintain that level of cases,” she said.

Corbin, who has consistently opposed a district mask mandate, felt that the goal posts would always be moving.

“We’re just going to keep living it, and it’s just going to keep happening,” he said.

The Tuesday board meeting was Zoom only for the general public due to the high rate of COVID-19 in the community.

Grand County has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, with 176 reported in the last week equal to 1,120 cases per 100,000 people. Twelve residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

According to their respective principals, as of Tuesday, 17 Granby Elementary Students, 12 East Grand Middle School students, 13 Fraser Valley Elementary School students and 11 Middle Park High School students are currently quarantined or isolating due to COVID-19.

East Grand has required masks since the beginning of the school year after voting in favor of the mandate 3-2 in August.

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