WINDSOR, Colo. (CBS4) — The Weld RE-4 School District will no longer require students to wear masks while at school, a decision which will take effect Jan. 13. The choice comes as COVID-19 cases are causing several districts across the state to shift toward remote learning.

Neighboring Poudre School District announced the same day the district is facing staffing shortages as the omicron variant surges.

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In a 5-0 vote, the Board of Education for Weld RE-4 decided masks will now be recommended rather than required.

“Our top priority through our COVID-19 response efforts has been and will continue to be in person education in safe and healthy school environments,” the district wrote in a statement online.

The district said there would be exceptions made to their recommended mask status.

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The district said any school that has a five percent positivity rate among students and staff will be required to enter a 5-day masking mandate. That two-week period can be shortened if the positivity rates decreases below 5%.

The district will continue to follow federal law by requiring masks on busses. Also masking may be required to accommodate ADA laws.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, and this extends to those who choose, or not, to wear a mask or vaccination status. Our goal is to create a safe and secure school environment. If your child experiences bullying, please speak with your school’s administration team or report it to safe2tell.org,” the district wrote to parents.

The district has schools in Windsor, Greeley and Severance.

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Nearby, in neighboring Timnath and Fort Collins, the Poudre Schools District announced their schools may soon have to switch to hybrid or remote learning.

Like Denver Public Schools, PSD is experiencing significant staffing shortages as cases surge through staff.

In the state’s largest district, DPS, the superintendent recently had to serve as a substitute teacher due to staffing shortages connected to COVID-19 cases.

Dillon Thomas