List: Arizona School Districts Requiring Masks For 2021-2022 School Year
As the 2021-2022 school year begins in Arizona, some school districts will require all students, staff and visitors wear face coverings despite a new state law that bans public schools from doing this.
This decisions come after the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention both issued recommendations on wearing face coverings at school regardless of vaccination status. But whether these policies are enforceable remains to be seen. A lawsuit has already been filed against one school district with such a mandate.
Here are the districts that have announced mask policies so far:
The Alhambra Elementary School District announced Aug. 5 that everyone will wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status while in group setting, unless they qualify for for an exception under district regulations.
The Amphitheater School District in Tucson will require masks starting Aug. 17. Masks will be optional outdoors. The district made this decision based on guidance from public health officials, the rise in COVID-19 cases in the community as well as an increased number of cases in its schools. On Aug. 16, one school had 23% of its student body absent due to illness, the district said in a letter to families.
Arizona School for the Arts announced Aug. 13 that the Board of Directors decided to require students, faculty staff and visitors to wear masks while on campus. They also strongly recommend those who are eligible to get vaccinated.
ASU Preparatory Academy
ASU Prep is requiring masks for all staff and students effective Aug. 18 until Sept. 29.
Brophy College Preparatory is requiring masks indoors through at least Sept. 10. The private Catholic high school is also requiring all students, faculty and staff to either show proof of vaccination or submit COVID-19 tests twice a week.
Effective Aug. 19, the Cartwright School District will require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks when indoors unless there is written medical documentation as to why one would not be able to do so. This requirement will remain in place until further notice.
Catalina Foothills School District
The Catalina Foothills School District on Aug. 16 said it will require universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers and visitors on all its school campuses, it said in a Monday letter to parents. This policy applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Masks will be optional outdoors.
The Creighton School District announced on Wednesday, Aug. 4, it will require universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status. There will be an opt-out provision.
The governing board for the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership, a Flagstaff public charter serving middle and high school students, voted on Monday, Aug. 16, to require masks all times when indoors on campus (with exceptions as per health authorities), and all persons on campus should continue to follow other mitigation strategies such as social distancing and cleaning protocols.
Flagstaff Junior Academy, a Flagstaff public charter school, began requiring the use of masks when indoors on school property starting Aug. 17. The policy will be in effect until Sept. 29. Students will get mask breaks. Parents and guardians can request a mask mandate exemption.
The Flagstaff Unified School District’s governing board voted Tuesday to require everyone wear masks while indoors on school property in response to new evidence about the spread of the delta variant. Mask mandates are prohibited at public schools under Arizona law, but a resolution by the Flagstaff board states that the law doesn’t take effect until Sept. 29. The masking requirement will go into effect on the first day of school, Aug. 11. The requirement may be removed if a court determines the law is enforceable prior to the September date.
The Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson is implementing an indoor mask requirement for students in K-12 and for all staff and visitors at district sites and on district transportation. Masks are not required outdoors and can be removed when eating or drinking or when consistent social distancing of six feet or more can be maintained (for example, an individual working alone in an office or classroom), the district said in its announcement. Health accommodations will be provided for individuals who request an exemption and who provide supporting documentation signed by a health care provider.
The Glendale Elementary School District will require masks indoors at all school and district facilities from Wednesday, Aug. 18, through Tuesday, Sept. 28.
Haven Montessori School
Haven Montessori School, a public K-6 charter school in Flagstaff, announced on Aug. 12 its governing board approved a measure to mandate masks at its campus for all students, staff and visitors ages 3 and older starting Aug. 13 through at least Sept. 29.
The Isaac School District started requiring face coverings indoors at all sites districtwide for all students, staff, and visitors effective Aug. 18. This requirement supports our multi-layered approach as recommended by the CDC and the AZ State Department of Health, the district said in a statement. The district said it will revisit this requirement at the end of September.
Khalsa Montessori, a Phoenix charter school, announced its governing board voted on Aug. 10 to require masks on campus.
“The school’s first duty is to protect our students and staff while creating a safe environment for learning,” it said in a statement. “The CDC and MCDPH both recognize the importance of masking indoors for schools. While we had hoped to loosen restrictions from last year, the current situation demands strict protocols.”
Effective Aug. 17, Kyrene School District will require face coverings indoors for any school in Level 1 Mitigation or above. Level 1 is defined by “substantial” community transmission, based on school ZIP code. At this time, with all Kyrene schools experiencing Level 2, “high” transmission, face coverings will be required for all students, staff and visitors, District wide, while indoors.
The Litchfield Elementary School District’s governing board voted on Aug. 17 to start requiring masks starting \Aug. 19. That policy will run through \Sept. 28 unless the board decides otherwise. It will also include a blanket opt-out provision for students and staff.
The Littleton Elementary School District has announced on Facebook it will require all staff and students to wear masks unless they are outside, actively eating or drinking or have a documented medical condition on file in the school health office due to the rising infection rates in the district. Previously, the district only required masks for visitors.
The Madison School District announced Aug. 6 it will require masks for students and staff while inside school property. The district's policy will run through Sept. 29, when the new state law prohibiting mask mandates takes effect unless the Maricopa County Superior Court rules that school districts can keep mandates past that date in the case against Phoenix Union High School District.
The Marana Unified School District in Pima County is requiring masks/face coverings for all students, staff, and visitors while indoors on campus starting Monday, Aug. 23. The district will make exemptions for certain students and staff members.
The Miami Unified School District’s governing board voted on Aug. 9 to require masks in district buildings. This decision was in response to the increase of COVID-19 positive cases in the district, it said in a statement. The policy took effect Monday, Aug. 16. The district is located in Gila County and serves about 1,200 pre-K through 12th grade students.
The Nogales Unified School District is requiring all individuals wear face coverings on school property at all times until further notice. There may be some exceptions.
According to a survey conducted by the district, 90% of the 558 teachers and staff that responded are in support of mandatory masking; 88% of parents and families that responded are also in support.
The Osborn Elementary School District issued a mask mandate on Aug. 3 for their students and staff in response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the more transmissible delta variant. The Osborn superintendent will work with district counsel to develop an opt-out option for parents.
Superintendent Troy J. Bales announced Aug. 17 that Paradise Valley district schools will require masks indoors for students, staff and visitors at school sites. There will be a limited opt-out option for students and staff.
After hearing from more than a dozen parents and teachers concerned about students' and staff safety amidst the growing number of COVID-19 cases and the delta variant, the Phoenix Elementary School District's governing board voted to reinstate its mask mandate on Aug. 2.
The Phoenix Union High School District announced July 30 it will require all students, staff and visitors wear face coverings when schools start on Aug. 2. All 32 of the ZIP codes in the district's boundaries have high or substantial COVID-19 spread, according to the district.
The Roosevelt Elementary School District issued a mask mandate on Aug. 3 for their students and staff in response to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and the more transmissible delta variant.
Salpointe Catholic High School, a private school in Tucson, is requiring students and employees to wear masks indoors while community COVID-19 transmission rates are "substantial" or "high" in Pima County. The county currently has a "substantial" transmission rate. Masks will become optional when the community transmission rate is reduced to "moderate" or level and/or until Salpointe reaches a 90% vaccination rate. In an Aug. 4 statement, Salpointe said it will not require vaccination, but the school strongly encourages students get vaccinated and upload a photo of their vaccination card to myPointe. Vaccine incentives will be offered.
San Carlos Unified School District
The San Carlos Tribal Council has issued an ordinance mandating masks on the reservation, and the district is following that ordinance.
The district announced it will require masks beginning Friday, Aug. 20, for all SUSD students, teachers and staff when they are indoors on district property.
“In light of the now more than 2,100 SUSD K-12 students either in quarantine or at home with COVID-like symptoms, the Governing Board voted yesterday to go back to a mitigation strategy that helped maintain in-person instruction last school year,” the district said in an Aug. 18 statement.
The new mask mandate is scheduled to end on September 29, 2021, the date that the new state law prohibiting school districts from issuing such rules becomes official.
Should the new state law be determined by a court of law to be unenforceable or unconstitutional, the Governing Board has authorized Dr. Scott Menzel, SUSD superintendent, to maintain or extend the mask policy until such time that it, in consultation with MCDPH, is found to be no longer necessary to protect in-person instruction. SUSD is in compliance with all current state and federal laws, and is committed to continuing to be so.
The Sierra Vista Unified School District announced on Aug. 17 that due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in its schools and its community, the district will reinstate its universal masking mandate beginning on Aug. 19. All staff, students and visitors will be required to wear a mask while on school property and while riding buses, regardless of vaccination status. This mandate will be in effect until Sept. 28, at which time a law goes into effect in Arizona banning school districts from requiring masks.
St. Michael's School
St. Michael’s, a K-8 private school in Tucson, is requiring all students and faculty, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks while indoors. “As a private school, we have the ability (and responsibility) to make appropriate autonomous decisions about our COVID mitigations and protocols for the safety of all within our community,” the school said in a statement to KJZZ. “ We are blessed to have small class sizes (average of 15 per class) that allow us to maximize social distancing while indoors. In addition to masking and distancing, we have increased ventilation, outdoor learning spaces, and additional handwashing stations throughout our campus.”
Sunny Unified School District’s governing board voted Aug. 19 to mandate the use of masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors while indoors on school facilities, district offices and school buses regardless of vaccination status. Masks will continue to be optional when outdoors, the district said in a statement to families and employees. The policy is effective Aug. 20 through Sept. 28 and aligns with the most current county, state and federal health and safety recommendations. “SUSD remains committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety for our in-person learning environment, and this decision allows our district to prioritize health and safety for everyone,” it said in its statement.
Beginning Aug. 17, the Tempe Elementary School District will require all students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors.
Beginning Aug. 17, the Tempe Union High School District will require face coverings indoors at all of our school sites as well as the District Office.
The Tucson Country Day School, a public K-8 charter school, is requiring masks be worn by all students, staff and visitors while indoors on the TCDS campus. Face masks will be optional while outdoors as long as individuals are socially distanced. Individuals with a medical exemption from a healthcare provider will work with administration in developing a reasonable alternative plan.
Tucson Unified School District passed a masking mandate on Aug. 4. The new expectation came a day before TUSD's first day of school.
The Union Elementary School District in the West Valley city of Tolleson began requiring masks as of Aug. 24 to protect the safety of its staff and students as it offers in-person instruction. Masks will be required until further notice. The district said this policy is in compliance with guidance from national, state and local health officials. If a student, staff member or visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided.
The Villa Montessori School, a Phoenix private school, will require masks for all staff, students and visitors while indoors and at school events (including extracurricular events). Other mitigation strategies include physical distancing, an isolation room for a sick child or staff member and following guidance from the Maricopa County Department of Health and Arizona Department of Health Services in regards to home isolation and quarantine requirements.
Washington Elementary School District's board voted on Aug. 4 to require staff and students to wear masks on campus unless they opt out by presenting a form in person.
If you know of a school district requiring masks for the upcoming school year, please contact reporter Rocio Hernandez at [email protected].
AZPM's Emma Gibson contributed to this report.