After nearly two hours of presentations and discussion, the Chandler USD governing board voted 3-2 to not make any changes to the district's COVID-19 mitigation plan after many school systems across the state implemented mask mandates earlier this week.

The plan calls for 3 feet of social distancing and daily updates on the district's COVID-19 dashboard, and it strongly recommends masking for teachers, students and staff following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month.

"We know that this can change," said Superintendent Frank Narducci. "We can make those changes as needed ... as we see any rates take a turn."

Board members Lara Bruner and Lindsay Love voted against keeping the plan as is. The board was presented with options that called for mask usage, a lower percent positivity threshold that triggers more mitigation at schools and other options.

The special board meeting came after Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order preventing local governing bodies from implementing mask mandates Aug. 16 following a ruling from a Maricopa County Superior Court judge stating a law prohibiting mask mandates does not take effect until Sept. 29—90 days after the end of the legislative session.

When the court ruling was made, several districts—including neighboring Kyrene School District and Tempe Union High School District—implemented mask mandates.

Ducey then announced Aug. 17 the state would offer $163 million in grants to district and charter schools that remain open for in-person instruction—without mask mandates. Chandler USD Chief Financial Officer Lana Berry told the board that if a mask mandate was implemented, the worst case scenario could result in the district losing up to $60 million in funding.

Chandler USD Board President Barb Mozdzen reiterated the importance of wearing a mask during the special meeting.

"I would hope that parents would be cognizant of other children and other families because when they make a decision not to mask their child, they can be impacting other children's lives," she said.