colorado eagle county mask protest schools MAP
CNN  — 

Parents and students in a Colorado school district will see more law enforcement officers as tensions flare amid a new mask mandate.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Sunday that more officers will appear at Eagle County School District schools Monday “due to the tensions in the community, related to the new mask guidelines.”

The announcement comes after the district announced Friday that it would institute a mask mandate for everyone entering school buildings where students are present in pre-K through eighth grades, at an early learning center and during indoor middle school athletic events starting Monday, according to a news release. That’s the first day of classes in Eagle County, which includes the towns of Eagle and Vail.

The decision to require masks followed a meeting with Eagle County Public Health and other schools throughout the community as rates of Covid-19 and related fatalities continue to rise, the district said.

On August 15, 811 coronavirus cases were reported in Colorado and 85% of ICU hospital beds are in use.

“ECSD made the move in order to maintain five-day-a-week-in-person instruction. This should prevent the need for prolonged quarantines or transitions to remote learning because of disease spread,” the release said.

The district had outlined specific metrics it would follow before changing policies, Superintendent Philip Qualman said in the release.

“Unfortunately, here we are,” he said. “As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, this disease does not care about our schedules or when school starts.”

Parents who do not want their kids to wear masks have the option to enroll their children in the district’s online school, home school or look for alternative options outside the district, the release said.

The district asked members of the community who do not agree with the masking decision to direct their protests to “locations other than schools” and not disrupt classes.

“Our goal is the same as yours, getting our children back to school safely,” the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department said, echoing the request. “Law Enforcement is requesting that persons who are wishing to express their opinions, not interfere or interrupt the freedom of movement and the functions of the schools.”