Mesa Public Schools To Phase Out Mask Policy; Other Districts Vote To Keep Theirs

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Friday, April 23, 2021 - 2:50pm
Updated: Saturday, April 24, 2021 - 11:50am
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Mesa Public Schools has announced that it’s looking to phase out mask wearing at its school sites and buses. 

On Monday, the district is starting to allow students to be maskless while outside. If the district does not see any spikes, it will begin to recommend but not require masks starting May 3. This decision came days after the governor issued an executive order that ended a mask mandate in schools.

This approach will give the district time to complete state testing, which includes having remote students on site, successful, it said in a Thursday statement. It also allows it to assess and plan for Phase 2, as well as address any questions or concerns from families or staff. 

The announcement came as a surprise to Mesa Education Association Vice President Kelly Berg, especially since she’s seen an increase of cases at Dobson High School, the site where she teaches.

“That kind of worries me that there’s an increase at my school, and now in a week we are not going to have to enforce the masks. I wish we could have gotten through the rest of the school year," she said. 

The association found in a survey that 80% of its 400 respondents want masks to stay in place, the remainder feel that masks should be optional. 

The district will take action, including quarantining classes, programs or schools, and even reinstating a mask mandate, if it sees an increase of cases, the district said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, governing boards for Gilbert Public Schools and the Peoria Unified School District have to keep their mask requirements in place. 

"With such a short time left in the year and without knowing who has underlying circumstances regarding COVID or the vaccine, I believe we should continue wearing the masks for others and for ourselves," said Peoria governing board member Cory Underhill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend face masks in schools. 

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