The Chandler USD governing board voted April 21 to continue to require masks in classrooms but will allow for students to remove their masks while outdoors for physical education activities. The decision comes with just 24 days remaining in the school year. The change begins for students Monday, April 26.
If the district infection rate remains low, effective May 31, 2021 masks will be optional moving forward, beginning with summer school.
The superintendent will have the authority to make adjustments as needed and all other mitigation strategies currently in place will remain at least through the end of the school year.
The move came after Gov. Doug Ducey announced April 19 that he was rescinding the statewide mask mandate in K-12 schools. Arizona's schools chief fired back, calling the governor's announcement "abrupt."
"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," said Kathy Hoffman, the Arizona state superintendent of public instruction, in a statement. "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."
Masks had been required in schools across the state since July, when Ducey first issued the executive order requiring face coverings in K-12 schools.
The April 21 meeting of the Chandler USD governing board was held virtually, and residents were permitted to submit comments online. According to the district website, 290 people submitted comments weighing in on whether masks should still be required in schools.
Chandler USD board moves to continue requiring masks in classrooms with exception for outdoor activities
Gov. Doug Ducey announced a series of tweets April 19 that K-12 schools will no longer require masks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)