High-speed Fiber optic internet service will soon be available throughout Durango. The Durango School Board has lifted its mask mandate. And a new outdoor storybook tour has been installed outside the Durango Public Library. You’re watching the local news roundup, brought to you by Stone Age Tools and the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. I’m Wendy Graham Settle. Durango internet users will soon have access to high-speed fiber internet no matter where they’re located in the city. Ting Internet, a division of Tucows, an international software, internet and mobile services company announced this month that it will expand fiber service throughout the city of Durango starting this spring. Ting purchased Cedar Network, a local telecommunications and internet service provider in 2020. Cedar’s network and customer base became part of Ting, which will now expand on Cedar’s service capacity. Cedar provided service to about a dozen cities in Colorado and New Mexico. In a news release issued in mid-February, Ting expected to offer expanded internet service to customers by the end of the year. Ting also has submitted a proposal to expand its fiber network in the Cortez area. To follow developments, visit internet.ting.com/westernslope. Students and staff no longer will have to wear mask while in school. The Durango School Board of Directors voted to end the district wide mask mandate starting on Monday, February 28th, but also strongly recommended that students, staff and visitors continue to wear them. The board made the decision based on high rates of immunity and low rates of transmission of the coronavirus. San Juan Basin Public Health reports that 70% of eligible county residents are fully immunized and case rates since the Omicron variant emerged have dropped from a high of 333 new cases on January 12th to fewer than 30 new cases a day since February 14th. Prior to voting on the mask mandate, the school board conducted a survey among parents, students and staff to gauge support for masking. 50% of parents and students who responded to the survey supported lifting the mandate, while 44% of staff respondents supported an end to mandatory mask wearing. Classrooms and social areas also will return to traditional spacing, but masks will continue to be required on school buses. The board warned in its notice that the mask mandate may be reinstated if infections adversely affect staffing levels or the community experiences another surge in COVID cases. To learn more, visit durangoschools.org As Southwest Colorado enters into the 22nd year of drought, experts will tackle the challenges ahead during the 38th Annual Southwest Water Conference scheduled for Friday, April 1st at the DoubleTree Hotel. The conference is hosted by the Southwest Water Conservation District and will focus on the drought related theme of navigating shortage. The day long event will cover how stakeholders are managing water supplies for multiple uses, water quality challenges as water levels drop, water storage, and climate change. Both in person and virtual attendance options are available to participants. To register, visit swwcd.org. Take your child on a walk and enjoy a story together. A new story walk has been installed on the Durango Public Library campus. A story walk is a designated outdoor route along which are placed pages of a children’s book. You can read the book page by page as you walk to the library’s front entrance. Hike, by Pete Oswald is the first book featured. Oswald’s wordless picture book celebrates exploring outside with family. Different stories will rotate throughout the year. Each station eventually will include Braille and Spanish translations. Zwisler’s Fine Woodworking in Bayfield built the stations where the pages are displayed. The installation begins at the corner of East 20th Street and East Third Avenue. The project was supported by the Durango Public Library in partnership with the Creative Economy Commission and the Durango Creative District. To learn more about library activities, go to durangogov.org/library. Durango Transit once again is providing service West on U.S. Highway 160. The route operates seven days a week, departing every 30 minutes from 7:05 AM to 8:35 PM. 14 New transit stops include Manna Soup Kitchen, the Tech Center, and west as far as the Wildcat Canyon Condos. The U.S. Highway 160 route was eliminated in 2018 because of budget cuts. To view root details, visit durangogov.org/transit. That’s it for this week’s local news roundup. Thanks for watching. I’m Wendy Graham settle.