No masks required at Yuma schools

No masks required, no mandates for things like vaccines or testing, local control with parents being allowed to make what they think are the best health decisions for their children.
That is the basis for Yuma School District-1’s return to school plan, when the 2021-22 school year begins September 7.

The Yuma-1 Board of Education unanimously approved the plan during its regular meeting, Monday night at the district office in downtown Yuma. Some extra chairs had to be pulled out of a closet, and offices, to accommodate a crowd of about 20 parents and/or educators that attended.
All five board members were in attendance — President Dan Ross, and Lindsey Galles, Kim Langley, Thomas Holtorf and Duane Brown.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman laid out the plan prior to the board’s approval. She said Yuma County’s four school districts, as well as most throughout the region, were adopting similar plans.
She said the district has been working with county and regional leaders throughout the summer. As of now there are no statewide mandates, with local trumping “one size fits all” approach.
Yuma-1’s plan recently was endorsed by the Yuma County COVID-19 Task Force, Chrisman said.
The plan reads in part: “The YSD-1 Board of Education and Administration believes that parents are the best decision makers when it comes to the safety of their child. Therefore, we encourage all parents to research the COVID health risks, safety recommendations and make decisions in accordance with the guidance you believe is important to the safety of your child.”
It added that information related to testing and vaccination can be found at,, and
School officials will not be doing contact tracing if there are any positive COVID-19 cases among students or staff. There will not be any automatic quarantining of larger groups if there is a case within a classroom or other cohorts such as sports teams.
However, Yuma-1 is encouraging everyone to communicate any positive cases “and follow local health guidelines related to prevention, isolation and quarantine.”
The district will continue to monitor case rates, and reserves the right to close classrooms or buildings if the need arises, working with the local health department to assess and take any appropriate action.
Chrisman stressed the need to adhere to health practices that have always been in place, such as being symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school. She credited the improved practice of keeping sick children home with improving all illness situations in the buildings last school year.
Yuma-1 will not require masks while riding on school vehicles unless non-school district staff or students are also in the vehicle.
Federal requirements dictate masks worn on public transportation. However, Chrisman said the district is making the case that school transportation is different, as it entails the same people riding on the bus everyday, or the same teammates going to contests. However, she noted there might be some activity trips to other areas that could require wearing masks.
Yuma-1 again will have Green, Yellow and Red levels for school planning, though decidedly much-less detailed than one year ago — Chrisman noted this year’s plan is two pages, compared to 25 last year.
The district will begin the school year on Green, which includes students being symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school after an illness, not just COVID-19 symptoms. Visitors to the schools will be allowed, and there are no restrictions to attending school-related gatherings.
No specific number of cases, of any kind of illness, is in place for going to Yellow or Red.
However, if the district does have to go to Yellow, it requires students be symptom free for 48 hours, there will not be any visitors or volunteers in the schools, and home symptom screening for students will be encouraged.
Additional considerations would include social distancing/cohorting, seating charts, short-term mask usage, reduced capacity at events, limiting field trips and other considerations.
If the district has to go to Red, it would be in collaboration with local public health officials about potential intermittent closures with a full class schedule of remote instruction in place.
Chrisman stressed that all the mandates the schools had to deal with last school year came from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She said the Northeast Colorado Health Department worked closed with schools in trying to minimize impacts.
Several in attendance had wanted to comment, but because of a misunderstanding when it came to “Public Comment,” no one was given the opportunity. It was at the end of the meeting, when someone spoke up said they had wanted to speak. Ross had noted he had not seen a list of those who had signed up to speak, so opened the floor comments.
Jamie Unger said he would be distraught by masking up kids and teachers again, noting they need to see each other’s faces, and to stay away from masks for the well being of the students and teachers.
Ronella Noble said she agreed wearing masks was not the direction to go for students and teachers.
Jeremiah Lungwitz said the district and public have to stand up to the health department trying to mask the students. Julie Mekelburg voiced concerns about quarantining rules. Others said they were good after learning of what the district’s plan entailed.