TUCSON, AZ — Gov. Doug Ducey's office responded to a chorus of K-12 and elementary schools that are bucking state law by instating mask mandates.
The office said that mask mandates are "toothless, unenforceable and will not hold up in court."
"COVID has been with us for well over a year and a half now, and Arizonans are educated about it. If they want to wear masks, they should absolutely do so. It’s an individual choice. No one and no law anywhere in Arizona is stopping anyone from wearing masks," a Ducey spokesman emailed KGUN9 Thursday in a statement.
"Ultimately, these mandates are toothless, unenforceable and will not hold up in court. As we’ve said repeatedly, the game-changer in this discussion is the vaccine. It works, it’s widely available and we strongly encourage every eligible Arizonan to get their shot," the statement continued.
"We also strongly believe the FDA should listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics and expand authorization of this life-saving vaccine to children under the age of 12. The FDA needs to ramp up this effort and they need to act quickly," the statement concluded.
Several school districts and higher education institutions -- including all three state universities, Maricopa and Pima Community Colleges and Tucson Unified School District -- have instituted mask mandates recently.
Arizona Board of Regents Chair Lyndel Manson released this statement Thursday, supporting the mask mandates:
"As students return to campus this fall, the Arizona Board of Regents has asked the university presidents to do everything in their power to keep our university communities healthy and safe while remaining open and offering an in-classroom experience. The steps taken by our universities comply with the executive order related to university COVID-19 actions and state law, and the board supports our university presidents for taking measures they believe are necessary to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus."