"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 prioritization," Ducey wrote in the tweets. "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."
In a separate tweet, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ encouraged all Arizonans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
"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,” Christ said in a tweet.
Officials from Chandler USD and Gilbert Public Schools said they had not had time to review and decide how to respond to the lifting of the restriction.
The Higley USD cabinet will meet Tuesday morning to discuss it, but because a policy is in place, the governing board would have to rule on any action to take place, district spokesperson Teresa Joseph said.
Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said in a statement that the governor's announcement "destabilizes school communities."
"Today's abrupt removal of the mask mandate in schools is just one example in a long line of decisions that have resulted in Arizona's embarrassing response to a virus that has claimed over 17,000 lives and impacted thousands more," Hoffman said. "While vaccines hold the promise of a return to normalcy, letting up on other mitigation strategies now just increases risk transmission at a time when we should be doing everything possible to keep students and their families safe. Today's announcement destabilizes school communities as they end what has arguably been the most challenging year for education. I encourage school leaders and board members to work with their communities to make transparent, evidence-based decisions that build trust in the safety of schools."