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After a backlash from some rec center patrons, the Evergreen Park & Recreation District has changed its mask-wearing policy effective immediately. The board voted 4-0 at its Oct. 26 meeting to …
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After a backlash from some rec center patrons, the Evergreen Park & Recreation District has changed its mask-wearing policy effective immediately.
The board voted 4-0 at its Oct. 26 meeting to have the district mask-wearing policy comply with Jefferson County Public Health orders. Currently, that means no one is required to wear masks in rec district facilities other than those in licensed child-care programs, where masks are mandated.
Board President Monty Estis abstained from the vote because he said his preference would have been to create a schedule at the rec centers with hours when masks were required and hours when they weren't required.
Board members reminded the public that the no-mask-wearing policy could change at a moment's notice if Jeffco Public Health changes its public health order.
The EPRD board in September voted to institute a policy that required masks in rec centers for those who were unvaccinated against COVID-19 beginning Oct. 15. EPRD staff checked vaccination cards and provided wristbands to those who were vaccinated and therefore didn't need to wear masks in the facilities.
In the 11 days that the mask-wearing policy was enforced, front desk staff were yelled at by angry patrons who disagreed with the policy, so much so that two staff members resigned, Executive Director Ellen O'Connor told the board.
Board members said they also received angry emails and phone calls, some bordering on being threats. They noted that they didn't want staff bearing the brunt of the policy that the board instituted to protect their constituents.
Two community members spoke at the meeting, neither providing their names because they said they feared discrimination because of their views. They said they were disappointed that the rec district imposed a mandate requiring patrons to divulge personal medical information if they wanted to be allowed to exercise without masks. One called the policy abusive, disgusting and discriminatory.
Board member Don Rosenthal said he was in favor of his original position two months ago that EPRD should align itself with Jeffco Public Health mandates.
“I may disagree with what they think,” Rosenthal said, “but at the end of the day, it's their job to set policies unless there are extreme circumstances.”
Board member Peter Lindquist noted that EPRD was about promoting health and wellness.
“No matter what decision is made, there will be folks who are very unhappy,” Lindquist said. “No answer will satisfy everyone.”
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