Photos show Ponderosa High School students having trouble keeping masks around noses and mouths in school

Principal: "I'm asking you to follow mask protocol"
ponderosa high school_maskless students.png
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 20:14:52-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. -- In one week, the state will hand over control of COVID-19 restrictions to local municipalities.

Despite that, the governor said Friday we're officially in a fourth wave as case numbers climb among Coloradans under the age of 50 — an age group that is not fully vaccinated yet.

The good news is, Colorado’s most vulnerable group is protected.

And with about half-a-million doses of the vaccine being sent to Colorado each week, the governor is hopeful we can get out of this in the coming weeks and months.

Health professionals like those at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children say even though the weather is getting nicer and more and more people are getting vaccinated, middle and high school students need to remain especially vigilant.

Dozens of photos recently surfaced from a source close to the Douglas County School District, showing students at Ponderosa High with masks below their chins and below their noses.

Ponderosa High School principal Tim Ottmann said in an e-mail to students and parents, “I know a number of our students are experiencing “mask fatigue," as it is extremely difficult to wear a mask all day. However… I’m asking that all students follow proper mask protocol. If everyone wears their mask properly at all times, we can significantly reduce the chance of having to pivot to remote learning.”

At least three Douglas County schools — Rocky Heights Middle School, Mountain Vista High School and Castle View High — were recently switched to remote learning because of a spike in COVID cases.

Denver Public Schools and a few other metro area districts have experienced similar spikes.

“The hard thing with middle school and high school is they see multiple classrooms and different kids. So, when you have one kid go out - it can cause multiple quarantines,” said Laura-Anne Cleveland, the associate chief nursing officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.

Cleveland says they are tracking multiple outbreaks.

“There is still a huge need to be compliant with masks, with hand-washing, with social distancing,” Cleveland said.

Douglas County Schools sent Denver7 a statement saying in part, “Just as organizations, businesses, and society as a whole have to address this issue, we will continue to remind our students to properly wear their face coverings."