Valley mom frustrated by school district’s mask mandate removal

Apr 21, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 8:34 am
(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The J.O. Combs Unified School District no longer requires face masks now that the statewide mask mandate for schools has been lifted, and that has a parent feeling concerned.

Stephanie Carey, whose son is a first-grader at Ellsworth Elementary School, said she was “extremely frustrated and appalled” when she learned face masks are now recommended but not required by the district.

She’s worried her son is at higher risk of getting COVID-19 at school and possibly infecting his sister, who attends a school with children who are immunocompromised.

The district, which serves San Tan Valley and a small part of eastern Queen Creek in Pinal County, made the decision after Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday rescinded part of an executive order that required face masks to be worn in K-12 public schools.

“It’s very disheartening and it’s very concerning as a parent that our kids’ safety isn’t the number one concern of the governor or of the school district,” Carey told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “That is really frustrating as a parent.”

The J.O. Combs Unified School District is one of the only school districts that has gotten rid of its face mask requirement. Others are keeping the mask rules and some are holding special governing board meetings to decide if they’ll keep theirs or not.

In a message to parents, Superintendent Dr. Gregory Wyman said the J.O. Combs Unified School District planned to “continue to prioritize the safety and well being of our community and will encourage the practice of known mitigation strategies such as social distancing, hand washing and temperature checks.”

But for Carey, those mitigation strategies are not enough.

She feels it’s too early to lift mask mandates for schools, especially because young children still can’t get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“There’s no vaccine for small children, so why aren’t we doing the most that we can to protect the tiny people that entrust us to care for them and keep them safe?” she said.

Carey added she didn’t feel Ducey was the right person to decide if schools should continue to require masks.

“I just don’t think that somebody who doesn’t spend any time in the classroom or in the school should be making decisions that directly affect the people attending those classes, teaching those classes,” she said.

The governor said in a statement his decision to rescind the state’s mask mandate is in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the CDC’s latest guidance states that “regardless of the level of community transmission, it is critical that schools use and layer prevention strategies.” Those strategies include the “universal and correct use of masks.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Valley contractor owes employees $2.6M in wages, damages in settlement

A Phoenix-area construction contractor agreed to pay $2.6 million in back wages and damages as part of a settlement reached last month, authorities said.
23 hours ago
President Joe Biden tours the building site for a new computer chip plant for Taiwan Semiconductor ...
Associated Press

President Joe Biden touts economic plan at TSMC chip plant in north Phoenix

President Joe Biden on Tuesday visited the site for a new computer chip plant in Phoenix and touted his economic plan.
23 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

Child killed in 2-vehicle collision on Thomas Road in central Phoenix

A child is dead and three other people are in the hospital after a collision in central Phoenix on Tuesday morning, authorities said.
23 hours ago
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)...

Special counsel investigating Trump sends subpoena to Valley elections officials

A federal investigator wants know what Donald Trump and his surrogates said to Maricopa County elections officials before and after the 2020 election.
23 hours ago
(Unsplash Photo)...

Pecking orders from Chandler expand rules on keeping backyard chickens

Families in a Phoenix suburb will be counting their chickens, but only up to five, after the city government approved backyard chickens.
23 hours ago
(KTAR News File Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Police say possible gun at Scottsdale school was just computer equipment

The student who reported a possible gunman at a Scottsdale high school last week actually saw somebody carrying computer equipment, police said.
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Valley mom frustrated by school district’s mask mandate removal