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Almost all southern Arizona school districts will keep mask requirements despite Ducey’s announcement

Schools that have reopened safely rely on five strategies: universal masking, physical...
Schools that have reopened safely rely on five strategies: universal masking, physical distancing, washing hands, cleaning facilities and improving ventilation.
Updated: Apr. 20, 2021 at 11:57 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona’s public schools don’t have to require masks on campus, following a directive from Gov. Doug Ducey.

But almost every school district in southern Arizona said it will still require masks through the end of this school year.

Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services on Monday, April 19, rescinded mask mandates for K-12 schools. In July 2020 the governor issued an order requiring schools to take action during pandemic’s summer peak and request their students to mask up.

“Nearly 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with many teachers and school faculty now fully vaccinated after being some of the first in line for vaccine prioritization,” Ducey said in a statement. “Teachers, families and students have acted responsibly to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect one another, and our school leaders are ready to decide if masks should be required on their campuses. We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward.”

In a statement, the governor’s office said the latest directive is in concordance with guidelines from the CDC. However, public and charter schools will still be able to implement COVID-19 mitigation measures — including mask requirements — as they see fit and are encouraged to following the latest guidelines from the CDC.

The CDC states on its website:

“Regardless of the level of community transmission, it is critical that schools use and layer prevention strategies. Five key prevention strategies are essential to safe delivery of in-person instruction and help to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools:

In a written statement, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman responded to the governor’s directive, calling the state’s overall handling of the pandemic “embarrassing.”

She said the governor’s decision to rescind mask requirements could put students and their communities at further risk for the virus since the vaccine isn’t yet available to anyone younger than 16.

Here’s how local school districts are responding to the governor’s directive:

The district said it “will not be changing its requirement for masks/face coverings at our schools and on our properties.”

The district said it will “continue to follow the health and safety recommendations set forth by the CDC which include universal masking in schools to ensure safe learning environments.”

The district said it “has made the decision to maintain its face covering requirement for students, staff and visitors to Amphitheater Public Schools at least through the end of the school year.”

The district said the mandate will stay in place until the Governing Board changes the policy. The board is expected to discuss it at the meeting Tuesday, April 27.

Today, Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services rescinded orders that direct K-12 schools to require masks. It is important to note that the Governor’s press release states that K-12 school districts still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.

MUSD will continue to follow all mitigation strategies currently set in place, and the use of face coverings is a top mitigation strategy for safe in-person learning. Per MUSD policy, face coverings must be worn on all MUSD school campuses and district offices, on school buses and during school-associated activities by all students, faculty, staff, contractors, and visitors.

The district said “in support of keeping our schools safe and open, barring any other action, the mask requirement will continue to be in place and enforced in all SUSD schools through the balance of the school year, under the provisions of the Road Back Plan that have been in effect all year.”

The district said it will monitor the situation as it prepares for the 2021-22 year.

The district said mask-wearing will be required until further notice. The requirement is for anyone “on any district property, any facility, school event or program. This includes all school buses and district vehicles.”

The district said its face-covering policy will remain in place until further notice.

The district said it will “continue to follow all of our COVID-19 Mitigation plan, as well as current CDC recommendations for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. his includes masks for all individuals on any school site.”

The district said it will revisit the plan this summer and make any necessary changes.

Also, Catalina Foothills will continue to require masks through the end of the current school year.

The district said it will “will continue with our mask mandate at all of our school sites and all district properties until further notice.”

Masks are required on “campuses, buses and during school-associated activities by all students, staff, contractors, and visitors.”

The district said “all persons, including, but not limited to, staff, students, vendors, visitors, and volunteers, shall wear a mask while on any District property, in any District facility, at any District event, whether indoors or outdoors, and in any District vehicle, including District buses or vehicles rented or leased by the District.”

Benson USD Superintendent Micah Mortensen said “(Ducey’s) decision came as a surprise as we were expecting to complete the school year under the mask mandate.”

The district will continue to require face coverings on district property or at district functions.

“It is likely that there will be an emergency Governing Board meeting to revisit the COVID-19 Mitigation Plan,” said Mortensen.

The district said its mask mandate will remain for all students‚ staff, and visitors on all TUSD campuses through the end of the school year.

“The Administration team looked at many different school scenarios across Cochise County and strongly feel that this is in the best interests of our students and staff. The COVID cases have now plateaued at a level that is still higher than when school began in August 2020. Additional factors in making this decision were closures and quarantines of activities and classes that are currently taking place across the county due to outbreaks, preserving the spring athletics that were taken away from the students last year, ensuring AZ Merit testing continues without disruptions as well as ensuring graduation/promotion and other year-end activities are open to all who would like to attend,” the district wrote in a news release.

The district said it will continue to require masks on its campuses and all school functions through the end of the school year.

“We will continue requiring all faculty, staff, students and guests to wear masks whenever on campus until further notice,” leaders said in a statement.

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