Air Academy Forever Changed, the End of the Air Academy Mask Mandate


Lex Griffin

Paul Harley and Caleb Looyeng relax without masks during lunch.

The 2020-2021 school year introduced countless students to e-learning, with which they would become well acquainted within the following months. The majority of the year was spent through screens rather than classrooms. Countless background distractions, issues with tech, and interruptions perturbed teachers and students alike. Children’s learning was constrained for months, leading executives to a decision. After spring break, schools would allow in-person learning as long as students wore masks.

Students were nearing another year of e-learning after summer; but with a resounding voice in the community, in-person academics were decided. Students were required to wear masks, sit six feet apart, and take time off if they got the virus. Students often got quarantined, resulting in stunted learning. January turned quarantines from often to daily, removing several students and staff from buildings all across the district.

“It was strange, we had gotten used to having students in person this year. It reminded me a lot of last year when we were at home with covid. It brought back a lot of the difficulties of having to learn when not at school,” Air Academy Algebra teacher Jill Weis commented.

While the second semester started poorly with a high quarantine rate, the mask mandate was soon lifted. Michael Anderson’s article, Gov Polis Unmasked, the Death of the Colorado Mask Mandate further elaborates Governor Polis’s decision. While schools all over the district celebrated, Air Academy collectively sighed. AAHS was one of the two schools in the district, the other being Douglass Valley, that had not received a lift. Students, staff, and visitors were still required to wear masks on base.

Only a few weeks later, following the school’s footsteps, the busses had the mask mandate lifted. Students and drivers alike were ecstatic, as the masks had been covering their faces for months, but, to Air Academy’s dismay, students’ faces were still covered.

“When the mandate was removed from the busses it felt pretty good; it felt like it could lead to a lift in the school,” sophomore Gabriel Ladino stated.

Shortly following the lift on busses, on February 28th, the CDC lifted the mandate for AAHS, as well as Douglass Valley Elementary starting March 1st. Finally, the students were set free. Emotions flowed through the school as many were able to see their peers’ faces for the first time. However, due to the untimeliness of the lift, many came to school still wearing a mask the next day out of confusion. While students were still given the option to wear masks for extra safety and to protect those around them with health conditions, they were no longer required.

“More people are vaccinated and the numbers of cases have dropped, but we aren’t at herd immunity yet,” AAHS language arts teacher Rachel Riley commented.

The lift of the mask mandate in Colorado is another step to transition out of the pandemic. Colorado has progressed from quarantining the state to an at-home school. From e-learning to in-person learning, and finally, from in-person learning to maskless, six-footless learning, strides are still being made to eliminate the threat of COVID-19, but both the district and the state have come a long way.