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Some parents fear school mask mandates are too late as COVID-19 cases rise in classrooms

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - More schools in Southern Arizona are requiring students and staff to mask up.

Some parents are ecstatic about school mask mandates, but others fear it’s coming too late as infections surge in our state.

“I know with boys that they are finding that they are more likely to have damage to their heart. So I am worried about the long-term health effects for him,” Krista McEuen says.

Her son is in the sixth grade. He tested positive for COVID-19 following an outbreak in class at his Amphi District school. McEuen believes it might have been avoided if mask requirements had been in place sooner.

“For the health of the population of students who can’t get the vaccine, it is their only layer of protection,” she said.

McEuen understands that school districts feel there is no right answer to the mask debate.

“They can’t satisfy the population so somebody is going to be upset no matter what they do. What I would like for them to do is follow what the experts in the field say is the right thing to do,” McEuen explained.

Tracee Perkins, another parent, says she has been fighting for a mask mandate since the school year started. Her kids are too young to be vaccinated. So she made the decision to boycott the school, until there was a mask mandate.

“I was ecstatic. My kids were excited too. They were ready to go back to school. You know, I hated to pull them out, but I had to. I had to protect them,” Perkins said.

If the school withdraws their masks mandate, Perkins will pull her kids out and look for an online option instead.

The move to mandate masks is coming at a time when COVID-19 cases are going up in classrooms. 581 cases in Pima County schools alone.

“That number is uncomfortable. I like when we were back in the double digits at least. We had numbers in the 30s. and even in Pima County and the state, you’re seeing those numbers rise,” Superintendent of Pima County Schools Dustin Williams says.

Williams is encouraging schools to require masks at least until Sept. 29, when the law banning mask mandates goes into effect.

After that date, Williams says, he hopes to keep as many mitigation strategies in place as possible, but it will be difficult to challenge the law against mask mandates in court.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.