PHOENIX — School districts around the Valley are either keeping or abolishing their mask mandates in response to Governor Ducey rescinding part of an executive order that required face masks to be worn inside K-12 schools.
Gov. Ducey said the decision was made on updated guidance from the CDC, and the increasing number of people who’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Read full statements from some Valley school districts below.
Gilbert Public Schools:
As you are most likely aware, earlier this week Governor Ducey released a new Executive Order 2021-10 [azgovernor.gov] rescinding previous state mandates requiring the wearing of face coverings in K-12 schools.
The Governor also stated, “K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread including the use of masks.”
In that light, our Governing Board met this evening, Thursday, April 22, 2021, to review the most current information, local and national guidance, and comments received from the community (both in-person at the meeting, via email, and online).
At tonight’s special Governing Board meeting the following motion was approved:
The Governing Board hereby directs and/or authorizes the District’s Superintendent or his/her delegates to update face covering regulations (GBGB-R, JICA-RB, KI-RB) related to the District’s Covid-19 mitigation plan as follows:
In adherence with CDC and ADHS guidelines, the current face coverings requirement shall remain in place until May 28, 2021.
Paradise Valley Unified School District:
"As you may have heard, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order 2021-10 rescinding the requirement of wearing masks in K-12 schools. However, “K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread including the use of masks.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials continue to recommend the wearing of masks in public schools along with following mitigation strategies to ensure a safe learning environment.
With this in mind, PVSchools’ mask requirements will remain in place for the health and safety of our students, staff, families, and community.
We appreciate your patience and support during these evolving times while our focus remains on teaching and learning in a safe and positive environment."
Peoria Unified School District:
"Late today, Governor Ducey and Maricopa County Department of Health Services (MCDHS) issued an update to their guidance to schools regarding facial coverings. We are still reviewing the new order and we anticipate that our Governing Board may discuss our current mask requirement at a future public meeting.
In the meantime, we are also still following Peoria Unified's policy and regulation JICA-RB, requiring masks for all staff, students and guests on all school and district properties.
If there are future updates or changes to share, we will certainly communicate with you. We appreciate your ongoing support as teaching and learning continues through this school year."
Higley Unified School District:
Tonight, April 26, Higley Unified School District’s Governing Board hosted a special session to review and discuss the most recent information regarding COVID-19, CDC and local public health recommendations, as well as comments from the community.
After discussing current mitigation plans and reflecting on community feedback, the Governing Board voted to suspend the current face covering policy and make face coverings optional beginning Tuesday, April 27.
Although it is now optional, we are still encouraging students, employees and visitors to wear face coverings. All other mitigation strategies such as physical distancing, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer will remain in place.
We would also like to remind families of the importance of completing daily at-home health assessments and please do not send your child to school if they are showing any signs of illness.
Thank you for your patience and support as our District discussed the impact of this decision and the best steps moving forward.
Deer Valley Unified School District:
"Throughout the pandemic, DVUSD has been a leader in providing in-person teaching and learning opportunities. Our mitigation efforts have provided tens of thousands of students the opportunity to remain in school for the vast majority of the school year. We believe in the importance of providing these opportunities and want to maximize the likelihood that our students can stay in school without being put into quarantine or isolation protocols.
This afternoon, Governor Ducey issued new guidance about face coverings and schools in his Executive Order 2021-10. The information below provides clarification to DVUSD’s current and continuing procedures regarding face coverings.
DVUSD mask requirements are contained in Regulations JICA-RB and KI-RB. Any changes to regulation cannot occur without discussion at the Executive Cabinet level with the Superintendent. Current policy regulation states that students, staff, and visitors must wear a face mask when on DVUSD property. At the Governing Board meeting next week, Superintendent Dr. Finch will provide a report to the Governing board about our plan moving forward."
J.O. Combs Unified School District:
"Today, Governor Ducey rescinded the mask requirements for K-12 schools through the issuance of a new executive order. Effective immediately, masks will be recommended but not required for students, staff, and visitors."
Osborn School District:
"There is no change to CDC guidance on masking in schools.
Universal masking is the key ingredient to keeping our schools safe. Face masks are still mandatory in Osborn schools this school year. Let's keep health and safety the first priority!"
Dysart Unified School District:
"Today Governor Ducey rescinded Executive Order 2020-51. Today’s communication states
'K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.'
The Dysart Governing Board takes this matter very seriously, and will discuss the mask requirements at the next Governing Board meeting. Dysart District’s face covering protocol remains in place for school buildings, busses and activities, until the Governing Board is able to meet and discuss COVID protocols, including mask requirements, at the next Governing Board meeting on Wednesday, April 28.
Face coverings will continue to be provided to students who do not have one. We appreciate your continued partnership in following our health and safety processes and procedures. Thank you."
Chandler Unified School District:
As stated in the Governor’s press release on April 19, “K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread including the use of masks.”
In a special session this evening, the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board reviewed the most current information, CDC and public health recommendations, and comments from the community related to the mitigation strategies that have successfully allowed us to return to in-person learning on January 19. In order to finish out the school year strong, hold safe in-person graduation ceremonies, and continue to minimize community spread of COVID-19 on our campuses, the governing board voted to modify our current mask policy beginning Monday, April 26. The mask policy still requires all students in grades PK-12 to wear masks while indoors. In grades PK-6 masks are optional during outdoor activities. In grades 7-12 masks are optional during all supervised outdoor PE classes.
If the CUSD infection rate remains low, effective May 31, 2021 masks will be optional moving forward, beginning with Summer School.
The superintendent will have the authority to make adjustments as needed. All other mitigation strategies currently in place will remain at least through the end of the school year. Thank you for your continued support of our prevention strategies, which will enable us to finish the school year strong, healthy, and safe.
Mesa Public Schools:
Mesa Public Schools announced on Thursday, April 22, that it will begin to move toward a "mask optional" policy in phases beginning on April 28. The latest guidelines from the district are below.
"Phase 1 (April 26-May 2)
Starting Monday, April 26, masks will continue to be required in school and district buildings and in district vehicles, including school buses. Masks will be strongly recommended, but not required, outside. All other mitigation strategies such as physical distancing to the extent possible, frequent hand washing, and use of hand sanitizer will remain in place.
Phase 1 will allow us time to successfully complete state testing, which includes having remote-learning students on site. It will also give our school and district leadership time to assess and plan for Phase 2. This includes addressing any questions or concerns from families or staff.
Phase 2 (May 3-ongoing)
If Mesa Public Schools does not exhibit any high transmission indicators on the county dashboard [maricopa.gov] as of Thursday, April 29, starting Monday, May 3, the use of masks will be strongly recommended, but not required. All other mitigation strategies such as physical distancing to the extent possible, frequent hand washing, and use of hand sanitizer will remain in place.
We will continue to monitor case counts classroom-by-classroom, program-by-program and school-by-school. If we see an increase in cases, we will take immediate action to keep our community safe. That could include reinstating our mask requirement or quarantining classes, programs or schools.
As we have shared before, our mitigation strategies, including masks, have made in-person learning possible. Families, we need your help. Continue to complete the daily at-home health assessment and please do not send your child to school if they show any signs of illness.
By working together, we can keep our community safe and finish the school year strong."
Scottsdale Unified School District:
"Today, Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services have taken action to rescind orders requiring school districts to implement face covering policies. Both state that school districts should continue to implement mitigation strategies as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, they reiterate that school districts have the right, consistent with CDC recommendations, to require face masks as a mitigation strategy.
SUSD has been committed to taking steps to provide in-person learning opportunities while working to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. To date, these mitigation strategies have allowed us to welcome back 85% of our students for in-person learning.
We are 28 school days from the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and while we know there are people who would like us to remove the mask requirement now, SUSD's 15 zip codes remain in the Substantial transmission category and the number of cases has been slowly increasing over the past few weeks. Accordingly, it is the expectation that students and staff will continue to wear masks while on school property, with the previously noted exceptions for recess and physical education, in order to ensure we end the school year strong and in-person."
Tolleson Union High School District:
"Earlier today, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey rescinded orders that direct K-12 schools to require masks. However, K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.
For the safety and well-being of all our students, staff members, and community, it is imperative that all students and staff members continue to adhere closely to all mitigation practices including wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is still one of the top mitigation strategies for safe in-person learning as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Again, masks must be worn at all Tolleson Union High School District Schools and events for the safety of our students, staff, and our community. In addition, all COVID-19 mitigation strategies remain in place. These include staying home if you are sick; requiring the correct use of masks at all times; physical distancing of 6 feet (to the greatest extent possible); handwashing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining facilities; and monitoring of cases with Contact Tracing in combination with isolation/quarantine."
Tempe Union High School District:
"As you may have heard, Governor Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order earlier this afternoon rescinding a previous Executive Order regarding the wearing of masks in K-12 schools.
In accordance with TUHSD’s Governing Board policy JICA-R, item K, we will continue to ask our students and staff to wear masks during the school day and at all times when on District property. This measure also aligns with our District Health Mitigation Plan.
I know we all look forward to the day that we don’t have to wear masks anymore, but today is not that day. In order to finish out the school year strong, hold safe in-person graduation ceremonies, and continue to minimize community spread of COVID-19 on our campuses, we ask that you continue to adhere to the current mask policy."
Washington Elementary School District:
"I am writing to clarify that today's announcement by Governor Ducey does not change the face mask requirement for Washington Elementary School District.
Governor Ducey's office announced today that he and the Arizona Department of Health Services rescinded the orders that directed K-12 schools to require masks. It is important to note that among the new information on the Governor's website is the following statement:
'K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.'
The WESD will continue requiring the use of face coverings on all campuses and district facilities until further notice."
Phoenix Union High School District:
"PXU Families, you may have heard that Governor Ducey rescinded orders that direct schools to require masks.
However, districts still have the right to institute and enforce masks and other mitigation policies in their schools. Please note that PXU’s mask policy will remain in effect for all students, staff, and visitors. Thank you for your partnership and for helping to keep our schools safe."
Legacy Traditional Schools:
"Today, Governor Ducey signed Executive Order 2021-10, rescinding an order that directed K-12 schools to require face coverings. In the order, Governor Ducey cited high vaccine totals among teachers and faculty who were part of Phase 1B of Arizona’s vaccine rollout in December and January.
As a result, Legacy students and staff will reserve the option to wear face coverings while on Legacy campuses effective Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Legacy’s policy complies with the Governor's order allowing school districts to set and maintain mitigation policies, including lifting the face coverings mandate when permitted.
Legacy schools remain committed to providing learning options for every student, whether online or in-person. Families who are uncomfortable attending school in-person with optional face coverings, may choose to attend school online for the remainder of the school year."
Glendale Elementary School District:
"Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services took action to rescind a section of Executive Order 2020-51, issued by the Governor in July directing schools to require face masks, and Emergency Measure 2020-04, issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) outlining requirements for mask usage in schools.
ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ prescribed that K-12 school districts and charter schools in the State are encouraged to continue to take actions consistent with the CDC Recommendations, the Roadmap and the Guidance to prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the community spread of COVID-19. K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.
According to our most recent health metrics in GESD, the Community Transmission Level is: Substantial Transmission.
In GESD, we will continue to require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks as stated in GESD Dress Code Policy JICA-RB and continue to maintain our mitigation plans. Thank you for your patience and cooperation."
American Leadership Academy:
"Today, Governor Ducey lifted the face-covering mandate in Executive Order 2021-10 for district and charter schools. At ALA, the safety of your family and our students has been and always will be of the utmost importance. With that in mind, our mitigation plan is still in place, but we will no longer be requiring face masks on ALA campuses. The continued use of face makes will now be a voluntary family choice.
Thank you for your continued support of ALA. We appreciate your trust in providing your student with the best educational experience in a safe, moral, and wholesome environment. If you have any questions, please contact your school's director."
Kyrene School District:
"There is no immediate impact to Kyrene's existing guidelines. At this time, face coverings are still required in all Kyrene schools and facilities."
Madison School District:
A voicemail to parents said Tuesday morning, "Madison will continue to require that students, staff and visitors wear a mask when on district property. This will remain in effect through the end of the school year."
Avondale Elementary School District:
The district is continuing its policy of requiring masks. The website states: "All students, except for those with special health needs, will be required to wear masks or face coverings, particularly when moving around the campus. Avondale ESD will communicate proper methods on how to wear, sanitize and properly maintain cloth face coverings to parents and guardians."
Great Hearts Academies:
The debate around the efficacy of masks in all of this is, of course, a central and dividing issue. People’s minds are made up one way or the other. For our part, as public schools, we believe we were right to submit to the state authorities on the matter. And our parents, on the whole, were happy to comply. With the requirement now lifted by the state authorities, we believe parents should have the right to determine if their child wears a mask at school. Therefore, starting tomorrow, we will no longer be requiring that masks be worn by students. The same is true for faculty and staff on our campuses.
However, any member of our community who wishes to wear a mask may continue to do so. We will not be discouraging mask wearing, and we will expect goodwill between those who choose to wear a mask and those who choose not to.
Florence Unified School District:
Florence Unified School District will continue to strongly recommend wearing masks by all students, staff, and visitors in district and school buildings; however, they will not be mandatory.
Queen Creek Unified School District:
"As a result of yesterday’s Executive Order 2021-10 and QCUSD Governing Board vote/action this evening (4/20/21), mandatory facial coverings will be removed from the QCUSD mitigation plan. Moving forward, facial coverings will be optional and based on individual choice among students, staff, and family members.
Students, families, and staff are still encouraged to do the following:
- Practice proper hygiene habits (washing hands with soap and warm water)
- Using hand sanitizer
- Staying home when sick.
If you have any questions, please contact your school’s administrator. Thank you for your continued support of QCUSD."
The East Valley Institute of Technology
The board voted 5-4 to allow students and faculty to choose whether to wear a mask as part of a special meeting Wednesday night.
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