Arizona Gov. Ducey Rescinds Order Requiring Masks in Schools, School Districts Respond
In alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services today rescinded orders that direct K-12 schools to require masks.
“Nearly 2 million Arizonans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with many teachers and school faculty now fully vaccinated after being some of the first in line for vaccine prioritization,” said Governor Ducey. “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. We will continue to work with public health professionals and Arizona’s schools as more students return to the classroom and our state moves forward.”
Today’s action aligns with CDC guidance and rescinds 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.
“Across the state, almost 4.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered,” said ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ. “Many families and communities are further protected from COVID-19, and our schools are ready to decide their next steps when it comes to masks. We encourage all Arizonans to get the vaccine — it’s safe, effective and absolutely free to the public.”
The CDC in March issued updated recommendations for preventing COVID-19 in schools. On March 29, ADHS adopted the CDC’s recommendations in its K-12 School Guidance for 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. Arizona schools are encouraged to continue to take actions consistent with the CDC recommendations, the Roadmap, and the Guidance to mitigate the spread of the virus, including measures such as:
- Washing hands with soap and warm water;
- Using hand sanitizer;
- Cleaning and maintaining health facilities; and
- Staying home when sick.
Arizona school districts still have the power to enforce individual mask mandates on their campuses.
These school districts still require masks on campus:
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.”
Chandler Unified School District:
“This afternoon the Governor’s Executive Order 2021-06 rescinded the requirement for all school districts and charter schools to require face covering be worn while at school. In today’s press release from the Governor’s office, ‘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.’ Our Governing Board will be reviewing the most current information and make a decision at a special virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. All current mitigation strategies remain in place. Thank you for your continued support.”
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.”
Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Shane McCord says the district’s mask policy will remain in place while the board reviews Ducey’s order and decides how to move forward. “Please expect further information and updates on any changes to existing mitigation strategies in due course,” McCord said.
Glendale Unified High School District
GUHSD officials told parents that the governor’s decision “does not change the face mask requirement” for its campuses.
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.”
Higley Unified School District
HUSD officials say “In accordance with Higley Unified School District’s Governing Board mitigation plan, at this time, we will continue to require students and employees to wear masks during the school day and when on District property until the Governing Board has had the chance to review the policy.”
Kyrene School District
KUSD announced that Ducey’s decision has “no immediate impact to Kyrene’s existing guidelines. At this time, face coverings are still required in all schools and facilities.”
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.”
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.”
Mesa Public Schools
Mesa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis told parents that the district’s current mask policy will remain in place despite the “abrupt” order from Ducey and ADHS. MPS is the largest school district in Arizona.
New Way Academy
New Way Academy, a private school for children with learning differences, says it will keep its mask requirement for the rest of the school year.
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!”
Peoria Unified School District
Peoria Unified announced that its district-wide mask requirement will be in place until a board meeting can be held to discuss the issue. “We are still following Peoria Unified’s policy and regulation JICA-RB requiring masks for all staff, students and guests on all school and district properties.”
Phoenix Country Day School
Phoenix Country Day School, a private, independent PK-12 school, says masks will be required for the remainder of the school year.
Phoenix Union High School District
PXU announced on Twitter that its mask policy “will remain in effect for all student, staff and visitors.” Phoenix Union is the largest high school district in Arizona.
Roosevelt School District
The Roosevelt School District says its schools will continue to “enforce the district’s mask policy and require all staff, students and visitors to wear face masks at all times.”
Scottsdale Unified School District
SUSD officials told parents Monday night that the mask requirement will be enforced for the remainder of the school year. Saying in a statement that read in part: “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.”
Tempe Elementary School District
TESD officials announced that its mask policy will continue to be enforced. “Keeping the safety of our students and staff as our top priority, at this time, we will continue to follow the District’s Mitigation Plan requiring face coverings in all Tempe Elementary schools and facilities,” the district said.
Tempe Union High School District
TUHSD says “we will continue to ask our students and staff to wear masks during the school day and at all times on District property. This measure also aligns with our District Health Mitigation Plan.”
Tolleson Union High School District
TUHSD School Board member Devin Del Palacio said that the school district will keep its mask requirement. “We have a responsibility to ensure our students and staff have a safe learning environment,” Del Palacio said. “Wearing a mask is proven to slow the spread of the virus.”
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.”
These Arizona school district(s) say masks are now optional:
J.O. Combs Unified School District
J.O. Combs officials say “effective immediately, masks will be recommended but not required for students, staff and visitors.”
Agua Fria Union High School District