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Judge extends temporary restraining order barring enforcement of Douglas Co. mask opt-out

Status conference set for Friday; board of health set to meet Wednesday
Douglas County School District
Posted at 1:16 PM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 15:16:13-05

DENVER – A federal judge on Monday extended a temporary restraining order through Nov. 22 that prohibits the Douglas County Board of Health from enforcing its public health order that allows parents to opt their children out of the Douglas County School District’s mask requirements.

U.S. District Court of Colorado Senior Judge John L. Kane extended the temporary restraining order, which was issued Oct. 26, until 3 p.m. on Nov. 22 and set another status conference in the case for Friday at 10 a.m.

The initial temporary restraining order was set to expire at 3 p.m. Monday, but Kane had said during last month’s hearing in which he granted the order that he might extend it if the district and board of health were still in the process of deliberating about an agreement. The district is also seeking a preliminary injunction in the case.

In court Monday, Kelly Dunaway, the attorney for the board of health and health department, said the board of health has indicated it might withdraw the initial public health order in a meeting set for Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Should the board rescind its public health order, that would be discussed in Friday’s status conference, Kane said.

The initial Oct. 8 order from the Douglas County Health Department allowed parents to sign a document opting their child out of mask requirements “due to the negative impact [of masks] on that individual’s physical and/or mental health” without a note from a doctor.

When Kane granted the temporary restraining order late last month barring the enforcement of the order, he said the district and the nine students with disabilities who sued had shown a risk of immediate and irreparable harm because of data showing the decrease in mask wearing across the district since the order took effect.

Attorneys for the board of health had asked for the two sides to get together to try to come to some sort of agreement and to see two more weeks of data before the judge granted the temporary restraining order.

As of Nov. 1, the Tri-County Health Department had stopped providing certain COVID-19 services to Douglas County after the county pulled out of the agreement with the health department earlier this year and formed its own.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said last week it was conducting case investigations and contact tracing for high-risk populations in Douglas County and that outbreak investigations and management was transitioning to the CDPHE as well.

An agenda outline for Tuesday’s Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting shows the commissioners are expected to hear a presentation from the county’s incident commander on a new contract for those COVID-19 response and protection services with a company called Jogan Health LLC that would be worth $1.53 million. The company is already operating COVID-19 vaccine clinics across the state.