Gilbert Public Schools governing board members pleaded with the community Aug. 24 to wear masks and follow mitigation strategies to help stem the latest spread of COVID-19.

The board at its regularly scheduled business meeting did not consider reversing its policy to make masks optional, staying in line with what the Arizona Legislature passed into law in June, but did review its mitigation strategies.

Additionally, nine members of the public spoke with six encouraging the board to stay away from a mandate while the others asked the board to do more to encourage safety but stopped short of asking for a mask mandate.

Board Member Jill Humpherys cited a wide array of authorities encouraging vaccination and mask use and quoted from a media article and Mr. Rogers as she made an impassioned plea for mask use.

“I would encourage our community to come together to support our kids, and if your child could wear a mask and you could mask to help us get through this, it would be so appreciated,” Humpherys said.

Board Member Sheila Uggetti asked Superintendent Shane McCord about how many people on GPS campuses were using masks, and McCord estimated about 20% overall, basing his number on conversations with principals and staff and what he has seen.

Uggetti then backed up Humpherys’ plea.

“Please, please, we’re not mandating anything, but we’re asking you as a community to support and help our children and help our community,” she said. “Let’s come together please.”

Board Member Lori Wood extended it to abiding by other mitigation strategies in place.

“Masks are optional, and we have had a plea to use them, but let’s for sure, absolutely, if your children are sick, keep them home,” she said. “If there’s other things we have, let’s be sure to come together as a community and make sure we are supporting each other and all the different needs and concerns and circumstances that we find ourselves in every way.”