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Education

Decision To End School Mask Mandate Early Has Little Support

A photo of elementary students wearing protective face masks and a little girl disinfecting her hands in the classroom.
Drazen Zigic
/
iStockphoto
Gov. Spencer Cox announced last week that public K-12 schools will not be required to have a mask mandate during their final week of school.

Whether people are in support of mask mandates or not, one thing many of them can now agree on is that the decision to end the school mask mandate early was a bad one.

Gov. Spencer Cox announced last week that public K-12 schools will not be required to have a mask requirement during their final week of school. He said the decision was a compromise between people who wanted the mandate removed immediately and those in favor of keeping it. It was also made because COVID-19 cases in schools have been declining, he said.

“This is clear evidence that the masks were arbitrary,” said Tracy Henderson, who has a daughter in the Canyons District and has been vocally opposed to masks in schools.“There's no science behind them. This is political.”

She said if the mandate is going to end, it should end now.

Math teacher Steven Phelps agreed the decision is mind-boggling, but for different reasons.

He has a special needs son who is at high-risk if he catches COVID-19. Ending the requirement leaves kids like his son on their own, who will now probably not be able to participate in end-of-year activities, he said.

“It was a betrayal to an entire community of people who this whole year have been doing everything we can to try and get through and just survive,” Phelps said. “Some of us have been locked in our homes since last March, very rarely going out because we know that it would be devastating if our kids get exposed.”

He added that kids between 12 and 15-years-old, for whom the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved, will have no chance of being fully-vaccinated by the end of the school year. School boards also won’t have enough time to meet between now and the end of the year to vote on potentially extending local mandates.

Several districts, including Canyons, Granite and Davis have said they will lift the mask mandate, though people who want to continue wearing them will have that choice.

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