Arizona School Boards Association Maskless At Conference While Suing For K-12 Mask Mandates

September 24, 2021

By Corinne Murdock |

The Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) wasn’t strict with their mask mandate at a legal conference last week, despite their ongoing lawsuit against the state over its school mask mandate ban. Several days after the conference, ASBA pushed for the right of schools to mandate masks in the ongoing court case, Arizona School Boards Association, et al. v. State of Arizona.

The pictures posted by ASBA show both posed and candid pictures of attendees maskless. ASBA Executive Director Sheila Harrison-Williams and Assistant Director Chris Thomas both took off their masks to smile for a picture, huddling in with fellow colleagues and conference attendees. ASBA spokesperson Heidi Vega explained to AZ Free News that they asked attendees to remove their masks to pose for a photo op.

Vega clarified that the conference did have a mask mandate in place, but admitted it was loosely enforced. Vega noted that anytime conference organizers were in front of a microphone, they reminded attendees to mask up.

“We can’t mandate every person. We would remind them to wear a mask,” stated Vega. “They are all different districts of different people on all different sides with different beliefs across the state.”

In ASBA’s lawsuit, they’ve argued that the health and safety necessitates local governments to impose mandates where they see fit. Governor Doug Ducey signed the mask mandate ban into law several months ago.

“ASBA believes the question of whether to require masks should be left to school boards who know their communities best,” asserted ASBA. “School boards are elected officials that are elected by their constituents and should be able to decide local control issues for those communities they represent.”

ASBA’s lax masking requirements for themselves while advocating for school mask mandates is similar to another recent controversy with Arizona’s education leadership. As AZ Free News reported last month, Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman was maskless and not social distancing at a baby shower. Like ASBA, Hoffman has expressed her disapproval of Ducey’s mask mandate ban.

“We know masks work and, with rising cases, they’re a vital part of our effort to reduce everyone’s COVID-19 risks,” wrote Hoffman. “I encourage teachers, administrators, and families to listen to the CDC and take individual action to keep themselves and each other safe by wearing a mask during in-person school. Students, teachers, and parents are ready to get back to in-person learning, but it takes all of us.”

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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