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Dolores schools will require students and teachers to carry masks, offer leniency with wearing them

New Dolores RE-4A Superintendent Reece Blincoe said all teachers and students will be required to carry masks this school year. They will not have to be worn outside. (The Journal file)
Everyone will be required to carry masks, but they will not have to be worn at all times, said Interim Superintendent Reece Blincoe.

Dolores schools will require students and teachers to carry facial masks this school year, but will not require them to wear masks outside or in uncrowded areas, said Interim Superintendent Reece Blincoe.

Students will not have to wear them while sitting at their desks.

Dolores School District RE-4A will have a staggered start to the 2021-22 school year. Most students start class Aug. 16, and seventh and eight graders will start Aug. 17-18.

Blincoe said he plans to address the mask rules Monday at the 2021-22 school year convocation.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on Friday endorsed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that everyone in a school setting wear a mask. School districts are free to construct their own pandemic procedures.

Dolores students will be encouraged to take their masks off and get fresh air at recess, Blincoe said.

“For sure, outside masks will be taken off,” he said. “It’s beautiful Colorado — we’ve got some good fresh air.”

Teachers will be required to wear masks when entering a classroom or any other crowded setting, he said. As they teach in front of the classroom, about 10 feet from the students, they may remove their masks.

“Most everything we’re going to do is going to be recommended,” he said.

Bus drivers and riders will be required to wear masks, in accordance with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s federal mandate requiring the masking of travelers.

Food service workers also will be outfitted with masks and gloves.

Parents will only be allowed inside a school building in rare circumstances, he said.

Blincoe noted that the district reserves the right to alter pandemic protocol at any time.

“We’re starting the year a little lighter than I would probably do it,” he said, speaking of the preventative measures.

Mandatory masks will become the new normal if cases surge, he said.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of monitoring,” he said.

The district’s website contains health screening forms required to be completed by staff before the start of every school day.

Hannah-Nyibol Deng Bior, a special education teacher in Dolores, previously told The Journal she wasn’t sure whether masks would be required in her district.