Parents push back on ongoing mask mandate in K-12 schools as statewide mandate lifts April 10

Protesters gather outside of the Governor’s Mansion Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, to protest Gov. Gary Herbert’s mask mandate and new COVID-19 restrictions.

Protesters gather outside of the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, to protest Gov. Gary Herbert’s mask mandate and new COVID-19 restrictions. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Statewide mandate ends April 10 but K-12 school requirement remains in place until June 15

From planned weekend rallies in school districts across the state to speaking out at local school board meetings, some parents are pushing back against Utah’s ongoing public health order that requires K-12 students to wear masks at school until June 15.

The resistance comes as Utah’s statewide mask mandates ends April 10, although businesses and other private property owners can still require them. The Utah Jazz organization announced earlier this week that masks will continue to be required at home games, which is also a league requirement.

Some parents say the transmission of COVID-19 in schools has been minimal and they question why students must continue to wear masks.

“I’m here to ask you to remove the masks. The data and the science is clear that there is no spread within the schools and there’s no reason to be masking our children any longer. Masks are detrimental to our children’s health,” said parent Stewart Campbell, addressing the Davis School District Board of Education on Tuesday.

After “letting the government and the school district choose what is right for my children’s health,” Campbell said he reached out to their pediatrician and obtained medical exemptions for his children.

For the first time this school year, they attended school on Monday without masks.

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“You should have seen their smiles when they got out at the school,” he said.

Another parent, Brooke Stephens, asked the school board to allow a parent’s signature to suffice when seeking a medical exemption.

“That’s what I’m asking for, so that parents can decide because they know and love their children the most,” Stephens said. Meanwhile, Stephens said she had also obtained medical exemptions for her children.

Despite the concerns raised by parents, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Sunset, said Wednesday that “there is no talk of changing” the provisions of HB294. The legislation, sponsored by Ray, was passed by the Utah Legislature in March and ends the statewide mask mandate but maintains the K-12 face-covering requirement.

Ray said it would take a special session of the Legislature to alter the K-12 mandate and lawmakers aren’t likely to meet again until June. The K-12 mask requirement was put in place to prevent school sports teams from refusing to play against opponents who weren’t wearing masks, he said.

“We just didn’t want to go there and that’s why we kept that in play. I, personally, I had no problem with masks coming off at schools. But we wanted to try to keep the different schools from causing issues. It was easier to keep it in until the school year was over,” Ray said.

Parents have had the option of seeking medical exemptions from masking requirements since the start of the school year. The forms require the signature of a health care provider. In Davis School …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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