Arizona’s second-largest district, Tucson Unified, to mandate masks
PHOENIX – Arizona’s second-largest school district is joining the ranks of those defying the governor’s wishes and imposing face mask mandates on campus to combat the spread of COVID-19.
In an emergency governing board meeting Wednesday morning, the Tucson Unified School District unanimously voted to require face coverings, becoming the state’s largest district to do so.
Classes start Thursday for the district’s approximately 47,000 students.
At least five Arizona districts, including Phoenix Union High School, have now adopted mask mandates to start their school years, despite a new state law that prohibits such action.
The others are elementary districts – Phoenix, Roosevelt and Osborn — that feed into Phoenix Union.
The law banning schools from requiring masks was passed in June as part of a state budget bill that doesn’t go into effect until Sept. 28. The bill included a clause to make the mask provision retroactive to June 30, but it’s not clear whether it’s enforceable yet.
Gov. Doug Ducey said Phoenix Union’s mask mandate isn’t allowed, but he hasn’t responded to questions about potential enforcement steps.
“School administrators should be doing everything they can to encourage eligible students and staff to get vaccinated, not break state law,” Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.
No COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in the U.S. for kids younger than 12.
COVID hospitalizations have more than doubled in Arizona in the past month, with unvaccinated people accounting for nearly all of the serious illnesses and deaths.