By Corinne Murdock
Both Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) and Tanque Verde Unified School District (TVUSD) declined to join the growing list of schools reinstating a mask mandate. For now, masks will remain optional at both districts.
For CUSD, the vote was close: 3 to 2. Board members Lara Bruner and Lindsay Love both voted in favor of restoring a mask mandate. For TVUSD, the board was decisively against reinstating a mask mandate: 4 to 1. Only board member Vieri Tenuta voted yes.
The legislature passed a law in June intending to ban mask mandates in schools for the summer and fall school years. Those schools reinstating their mask mandates have argued that the ban doesn’t apply until September 29. That’s the date that a judge has ruled the state’s mask mandate ban was active, citing Arizona law prohibiting statutes from taking effect until 90 days after a legislative session ends.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner issued the ruling in the case of a biology teacher challenging Phoenix Union High School District’s (PXU) mask mandate.
The CUSD Governing Board attached a copy of the PXU ruling for consideration. They also included several announcements on education funding from Governor Doug Ducey – one of which concerned the $163 million in grants only available to schools that continue in-person learning for the rest of the year and follow all state laws.
By that latter stipulation, Ducey meant the mask mandate ban he signed into law in June. The governor and other supporters argue that the law took effect months ago based on a retroactivity clause.
Approximately 20 other districts, private schools, charter schools, and Montessori schools have reinstated mask mandates.
The school districts are: Alhambra Elementary School District, Amphitheater School District, Catalina Foothills School District, Creighton School District, Flagstaff Unified School District, Glendale Elementary School District, Kyrene School District, Littleton Elementary School District, Madison School District, Miami Unified School District, Nogales Unified School District, Osborn School District, Peoria Unified School District, Phoenix Elementary School District, Phoenix Union High School District, Roosevelt Elementary School District, Tucson Unified School District, and Washington Elementary School District.
Private schools requiring masks are Brophy College Preparatory and Salpointe Catholic High School, whereas charter schools requiring masks are Arizona School for the Art and Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy. The two Montessori schools requiring masks currently are Haven Montessori School and Khalsa Montessori School.
At least one other school district will decide on reinstating a mask mandate Friday – Marana Unified School District (MUSD). The district also cited Judge Warner’s recent ruling as rationale for considering the matter of restoring mask mandates.