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Ducey: State No Longer Requiring Mask Wearing In Arizona Schools

Published: Monday, April 19, 2021 - 6:01pm
Updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - 10:53am
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Gov. Doug Ducey has issued an executive order that rescinds the state’s mask mandate in schools. This action comes as nearly 2 million Arizonans, including teachers and school staff, are fully vaccinated against the virus, Ducey said in a Monday statement. It also comes just before schools finish up the school year. 

“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," he said. 

But children under 16 are still ineligible for the vaccine, said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman in a statement posted on Twitter. Her office was notified of the action moments before the announcement went out. 

"While vaccines hold the promise of a return to normalcy, letting up on other mitigation strategies now just increase risk of transmission at a time when we should be doing everything possible to keep students and their families safe," she said.

In a separate statement, the Arizona School Boards Association, said it was "profoundly disappointed" in the governor's decision.

"School districts will now be forced to deal with controversy ..." it said in a statement. "Far from making schools safer, we fear this will add to the concerns some parents already have regarding in-person learning."

The governor claims this action aligns with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the CDC said on its website that it recommends mask wearing in schools regardless of level of community transmission.

K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, The order said.

About an hour after the order went out, at least one school district, J.O. Combs, has announced that will make masks recommended, but not required for all on its school sites. Other school districts, like Kyrene, are reviewing the executive order. The president of the Tolleson Union High School District's governing board said on Twitter his district "will continue to enforce its mask policy."

For more about how schools will handle this change, The Show spoke with Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association.

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