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Dysart district mask protocols up for debate

Topic on agenda at next board meeting Wednesday night

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Mask mandates were lifted as of April 19 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and now schools are addressing mask and COVID-19 protocols as the end of the year nears.

Executive order 2020-51 was rescinded and Dysart Unified School District officials put out communications that same day via the district website stating, “K-12 school districts and charter schools still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread, including the use of masks.”

The message went on to read the DUSD governing board takes the matter seriously and will discuss the topic in the next meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 28.

The District’s face covering protocol remains in place for school buildings, buses and activities. Face coverings will continue to be provided to students who do not have one.

Renee Ryon, DUSD communications director said district officials have heard from a handful of individuals on both sides of the issue since the governor’s announcement.

“District COVID protocols and updates have been a regular agenda item for discussion at our recent Governing Board meetings. During the April 28 meeting, the governor’s announcement will be included in that discussion, along with any input that has been received through public comments or other communications,” she said. “We appreciate your continued partnership in following our health and safety processes and procedures.”

On July 23, Mr. Ducey required all school districts and charter schools to develop and implement a policy to require face coverings, such as masks or shields. It was overruled by the Department of Health Services, which mandated the face coverings in schools Nov. 19.

In a statement from the governor’s office, what changed was 38% of Arizonans had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“Teachers, families and students have acted responsibly to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect one another,” Mr. Ducey said. “And our school leaders are ready to decide if masks should be required on their campuses.”

State schools chief Kathy Hoffman is not in support of the mandate.

“Today’s abrupt removal of the mask mandate in schools is just one example in a long line of decisions that have resulted in Arizona’s embarrassing response to a virus that has claimed over 17,000 lives and impacted thousands more,” she said in her own statement.

Editor’s Note: Portions of this story were originally reported by Howard Ficher of Capitol Media Services

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