PHOTOS: Crowd protests Tri-County Health school mask order in Arapahoe County

Several dozen gathered to push county to opt out of school mask mandate

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A crowd of several dozen protesters cheered in response to honks from passing vehicles while holding up signs that read, “Choice not mandate!" and "I don't co-parent with the government" during a protest against local mask requirements in schools.

The group stood outside the Arapahoe County administration building in Littleton ahead of a meeting by the county’s elected leaders that discussed whether the county — or any part of it — would be opted out of the school mask order issued by Tri-County Health Department. That’s the local health agency that serves Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Annie Peters, a mother from Highlands Ranch, stood among the group, holding a sign that read, “Unmask our children.” Peters said she’s a preschool substitute teacher at a school in Arapahoe County.

“I tried to implement the mask requirement on 2-year-olds last week, and it was an unmitigated disaster,” Peters said, noting that young children are often teething and that their salivating can get the masks wet.

Some kids see the mask their friend is wearing and want to trade, she added. Kids drop the masks on the ground, too, she said.

“They’re too young,” Peters said. She heard about the protest through a group called Conservative Women of Colorado, she said.

Tri-County Health policy allows counties to opt out of public health orders, but even if a county opts out from the school mask order, school districts can still choose to implement the requirements. The mask order took effect Aug. 23.

Arapahoe County may consider opting out entirely or opting a part of the county out on the morning of Aug. 31, but it depends on whether Tri-County Health makes any changes in policy at a meeting at 4 p.m. Aug. 3o.

Two of the five Arapahoe County commissioners voiced support for opting out at a study session meeting on Aug. 30.

Tri-County’s board of health was to meet on Aug. 30 to “reconsider” its opt-out policy and possibly parts of the mask mandate itself.

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