By Corinne Murdock
Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) announced it will require masks on buses – a direct violation of state law prohibiting school-enforced mask mandates. SUSD claimed that CDC authority was greater than the state’s authority. They cited the CDC order requiring masks on public transportation. SUSD claimed that this order not only applied to public school transportation – but private schools as well.
“There was a specific question regarding whether [the CDC order] applied to school buses […] the CDC confirmed that the order applies to school buses, whether they are operated by the district or by a private provider,” wrote SUSD. “SUSD will be complying with this federal requirement. Students who choose to ride the bus, along with SUSD bus drivers, will be required to wear masks while on the bus. Students are not required to wear masks while waiting at a bus stop or after they disembark, and drivers are not required to wear masks if not students are on the bus.”
SUSD parent Amanda Wray tweeted a screenshot of SUSD’s district-wide email announcing the mask mandate on Friday.
“It’s official, masks required on buses! @ScottsdaleUSD sat on this announcement as long as they could. Operated summer school and camp buses without masks, so what changed?” asked Wray.
Earlier this month, the Arizona legislature banned mask mandates within its K-12 budget. The legislation prohibited schools from requiring masks during school hours or on any school property. The move followed the governor’s decision in April to rescind the order mandating masks in schools.
On the same day of SUSD’s announcement, Ducey doubled down on the assertion that there wouldn’t be any mask mandates in schools. In his pleadings with Arizonans to get vaccinated, he stated that the vaccines made mandates unnecessary.
“We will not be listening to the lockdown lobby. Businesses will stay open. Students will be able to attend school. There will be no mask mandates,” said Ducey. “We have a proven solution with the vaccine. I strongly encourage every Arizonan who is eligible for the vaccine to get it so they can protect themselves and our whole state.”
Ducey didn’t respond to news of SUSD’s mask mandate.
At least one other lawmaker took notice. State Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) responded to parents concerned over SUSD’s decision to break state law with a mask mandate. Ugenti-Rita accused SUSD of siding with the Biden Administration and socialism by imposing an unauthorized mask mandate.
“Why is @ScottsdaleUSD insistent on pushing the socialist agenda of the @JoeBiden administration…” wrote Ugenti-Rita. “If there ever was a better argument for school choice the Democrats are making it now! #LeaveOurKidsAlone[.]”
This latest announcement comes on the heels of another controversial act undertaken by SUSD. As AZ Free News reported on Thursday, SUSD offered to send students an emotional health and wellness screening that asked for personal information, medical history or information, mental health history or information, quality of home and interpersonal relationship information, student biometric information, gun or ammunition ownership, and any relatives’ illegal, antisocial, or self-incriminating behaviors.
Students as young as kindergarteners were eligible to participate in this screening. Concerned parents asked SUSD about the screening description. SUSD officials responded that the description was part of a standard waiver form that wasn’t tailored for SUSD use, and that the screener wouldn’t acquire any of the information listed on the description.
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to email@example.com.