After a recent outbreak, leaders say they’re prioritizing parental decision-making over county protocols on masking and social distancing.
When students at Resurrection Christian School in Loveland, Colorado, returned on Wednesday from a four-day Labor Day weekend, school leaders were there at the entrances to welcome them, masked and unmasked, and to keep an eye out for county health officials.
Last week, following a COVID-19 outbreak that infected around 35 of 1,600 students, the health department directed Resurrection Christian to adopt a universal mask mandate and social distancing for at least 14 days, but the school—which required masks last school year and lifted the rule over the summer—refused.
The Larimer County Department of Health had scheduled a site visit on the school’s first day back to monitor the response, telling school administrators in a letter that if the measures were not taken, the county would “pursue further action, including possible closure of the school.”
The clash between Resurrection Christian and Larimer County is an example of the the broader pushback against COVID-19 protocols by those claiming conscience freedoms or religious freedoms. It also echoes debates among Christians over the responsibility to mask and take other precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
Though Resurrection Christian is a private and religious institution, state law allows public health agencies to regulate COVID-19 responses in all schools and order compliance if necessary, the Fort Collins Coloradan reported. The county health department website says it consults with “districts, private, and charter schools” while also “intervening in outbreaks.”
Kori Wilford, county health department spokesperson, told the Coloradan that at Resurrection Christian, “if additional measures such as wearing masks, …