PHOENIX — Phoenix Union High School District says it will be requiring masks indoors for all students, staff, and visitors as COVID-19 cases continue an upward trend in our state.
"Phoenix Union will begin the school year on August 2 enforcing our existing Board-adopted mask requirement of universal indoor masking only, regardless of vaccination status," a Friday announcement said.
On Aug. 5, school leaders and the Governing Board will discuss mitigation policies, including masks.
The announcement also said, "we have heard from our staff, students, and families that they want us to realign our mitigation practices with the guidelines and recommendations of national and local health agencies."
The district cited the rapidly spreading delta variant as the reason for the mask policy.
"Campus health and safety is our top priority as we return next week. To do so, we must - and will - implement mitigation strategies that minimize spread, reduce quarantining, avoid school closures, and enable us to provide mental health services and engaging opportunities such as clubs, sports, and the arts," they said.
The district held a press conference Friday addressing questions over the move. Watch below.
The district also noted that all 32 zip codes within the district are seeing high or substantial spread of the virus.
Arizona’s top education official calls a new law signed by Governor Doug Ducey that bans school leaders from mandating strict mitigation measures "highly political."
“It’s very frustrating to have our lawmakers pass laws that are going against the science, and are tying the hands of our school leaders from doing what’s best to protect our kids and our teachers and causing more fear and uncertainty,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.
When asked Friday about Phoenix Union High School District's mask requirement, a spokesperson for Gov. Ducey said the district's decision "has no teeth" and is not enforceable under the governor's previous order.
"Arizona is not anti-mask, we’re anti-mask mandate," a statement from Ducey's office said. "As the governor has often said, mask usage is up to parents. If a parent wants their child to wear a mask at school, they are free to do so. This is not a state decision...School administrators should be doing everything they can to encourage eligible students and staff to get vaccinated, not break state law."
In a statement released last Friday, Ducey said, "We will not be listening to the lockdown lobby. Businesses will stay open. Students will be able to attend school. There will be no mask mandates. We have a proven solution with the vaccine."
Ducey has maintained his stance on mitigation strategies, putting an emphasis on vaccinations to best protect Arizona residents.
The district has been focusing on getting people vaccinated, holding several free vaccination clinics.
Saturday, July 31 they will have Pfizer vaccines available for those 12 and older at six locations. Find out more here: https://www.research.net/r/TVPM2MG