Next steps for ASD mask mandate


Quintessa Frisch

Gia Galindo Bartley and Areysi Galvan, freshmen at Aspen High School in Aspen Colo., working in class while wearing face masks on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.

In accordance with the Pitkin County Board of Health’s mandates students and staff of the Aspen School District (ASD) are currently required to wear masks while inside school property.

In October 2021, The Pitkin County Board of Health will reassess the possibility of schools without masks opening up. Medical doctor Jeannie Seybold, a former physician for pediatric anesthesia and pain medicine at Stanford Children’s Hospital, is one of the seven voting members for this decision. The ‘substantial level’ is the next lower level that Pitkin County is looking for in community transmission rates.

“The next level’s substantial, and there’s only one state, California, that has reached substantial transmission. If it decreases here in Colorado, then there’s a possibility of maybe lifting the mandate,” Dr. Seybold said.

Katy Frisch, a member of the ASD Board of Education, has strong opinions pertaining to mask mandates for the ASD.

“Personally, I believe that until we can have a largely vaccinated population, that it’s vital to keep everybody healthy and safe by requiring masks so that we stop the spread of this disease, and hopefully we can move to a position where we won’t need them anymore because everyone will be vaccinated,” Frisch said.

Dr. Seybold and Katy Frisch agree that both vaccines and masks are important to stop the spread of COVID and that either the vaccine or masks alone aren’t enough.

“They don’t get it as easily as someone who’s not vaccinated, maybe they have 1/5 a chance of spreading it. That chance of spreading is still there, and we want people to have masks so they don’t inadvertently spread it, especially if they’re not vaccinated, to someone who might be vulnerable,” Dr. Seybold said.

Compared to places such as Texas and the UK, which have had a much larger amount of kids out of school because of quarantines, ASD has been able to limit COVID cases.

“At the beginning of the school year, they (the UK) had 1 million kids out of school in quarantine. And then there are other places that started without mask mandates that have had one or two kids die. Now they have mask mandates, but it is too late,” Dr. Seybold said.

A cautious outlook is being taken for a mask mandate change. Until the community COVID rates drop and the vaccination rates go up, the ASD students and staff will continue to wear masks. Students such as Ela Stevenson, a freshman at AHS, are in favor of wearing masks.

“The importance is to protect yourself and other people,” Stevenson said.