List: Arizona school districts requiring masks for 2021-2022 school year
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined the new set of measures on Feb. 25 for communities where COVID-19 is easing its grip, with less of a focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals. The agency said most Americans live in places where healthy people, including students in schools, can safely take a break from wearing masks. Many districts have either changed the guidelines or are considering changes. This information in this guide was current through Feb. 14, 2022, and will not be continually updated unless CDC guidance changes significantly.
A judge ruled on Sept. 27, 21, that a ban on Arizona public school mask mandates, as well as a variety of other laws shoehorned into the state budget by Republican lawmakers, was unconstitutional. The ruling frees public school leaders across Arizona to require students, staff and visitors to wear masks on campus.
Arizona K-12 schools are resuming classes after winter break amid a new surge of COVID-19 cases and the latest variant, omicron. While some school leaders are continuing their mask policies in response, others have shifted their mask policies now that kids 5-11 can also get vaccinated against COVID-19 to masks strongly recommended or only required for staff.
Here's the latest on policies at many Arizona school districts.
If you know of a new or updated school face covering policy, please contact [email protected].
Districts with mask policies
The Alhambra Elementary School District announced Aug. 5, 2021, 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 required masks starting Aug. 17, 2021. Masks are 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, 2021, 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, 2021, that the Board of Directors decided would 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 required masks for all staff and students effective Aug. 18, 2021.
Effective Aug. 19, 2021, 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.
The Catalina Foothills School District on Aug. 16, 2021, said it would require universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers and visitors on all its school campuses. This policy applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Masks will be optional outdoors. No visitors are permitted on campuses.
The Creighton School District announced on Aug. 4, 2021, it would require universal indoor masking, regardless of vaccination status. There is an 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 Aug. 16, 2021, 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, 2021. Students will get mask breaks. Parents and guardians can request a mask mandate exemption.
The Flagstaff Unified School District requires everyone wear a "face covering indoors while on any district property, at any district event, and in any district vehicle."
The Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson implemented 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 an be maintained (for example, an individual working alone in an office or classroom), the district said in its announcement. Health accommodations are 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 Aug. 18, through Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
As of Jan. 3, 2022, Glendale Union High School District is requiring all students, employees and visitors to wear a mask indoors as a result of rising cases in Arizona. The district said in an email to parents that the policy will be reviewed no later than Jan. 28, 2022.
Haven Montessori School, a public K-6 charter school in Flagstaff, announced on Aug. 12, 2021, its governing board approved a measure to mandate masks at its campus for all students, staff and visitors ages 3 and older.
The Isaac School District started requiring face coverings indoors at all sites districtwide for all students, staff, and visitors effective Aug. 18, 2021. This requirement supports our multi-layered approach as recommended by the CDC and the Arizona Department of Health, the district said in a statement.
Khalsa Montessori, a Phoenix charter school, announced its governing board voted on Aug. 10, 2021, to require masks on campus. Masks are required for anyone entering the school premises, except for toddlers and primary students.
The Litchfield Elementary School District’s governing board voted on Aug. 17 to start requiring masks starting Aug. 19, 2021. That policy will run through Sept. 28, 2021, unless the board decides otherwise. It will also include a blanket opt-out provision for students and staff.
The Littleton Elementary School District requires 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.
The Madison School District announced Aug. 6, 2021, it would require masks for students and staff while inside school property. Parents are able to opt their children out of the policy.
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.
Montessori School of Flagstaff
Starting Oct. 5, 2021, the Montessori School of Flagstaff began requiring face masks during school, Late Day programs, after school activities and any school events, it said in an Oct. 1, 2021, email to families. The policy applies to all students enrolled in the primary classrooms at the Westside and Sunnyside campuses; all students at the Switzer and Cedar campuses; and all staff, all parents/guardians, and all visitors at all four Montessori School of Flagstaff campuses. Face masks must be worn in all hallways, public spaces and common areas. Staff will determine exceptions to these rules, including instances when students and staff are outdoors, and while eating or drinking. Younger children will not wear masks while napping. Students will be offered breaks to remove face coverings in a safe environment.
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, 2021, for students, staff and visitors. Everyone is required to wear a mask indoors, unless they have a documented medical exemption.
Paradise Valley Unified School District Superintendent Troy J. Bales announced Aug. 17, 2021, that Paradise Valley district schools will require masks indoors for students, staff and visitors at school sites. There is a limited opt-out option for students and staff.
The Pendergast Elementary School District announced Oct. 1, 2021, that it will require masks indoors on school property regardless of vaccination status due to the "increasing numbers of COVID positive students, and continued high transmission of COVID-19" in its community. The district also cited a CDC report which found that Arizona schools with mask requirements had fewer outbreaks than those without. The mask policy started Oct. 11, 2021.
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, 2021.
The Phoenix Union High School District announced July 30, 2021, it would require all students, staff and visitors wear face coverings when schools start on Aug. 2, 2021.
The Roosevelt Elementary School District issued a mask mandate on Aug. 3, 2021, for their students and staff.
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. 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, 2021, statement, Salpointe said it will not require vaccination, but the school strongly encourages students get vaccinated. 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.
On Jan. 3, 2022, the Scottsdale Unified School District announced it’s requiring masks for all staff indoors in an effort to preserve the district’s ability to offer in-person instruction. However, masks will be strongly recommended for students.
The Sierra Vista Unified School District announced on Aug. 17, 2021, the district would reinstate its universal masking mandate beginning on Aug. 19, 2021. Masks are required for all students, staff and visitors on school grounds for all indoor activities.
St. Michael’s, a K-8 private school in Tucson, requires an approved cloth mask or disposable surgical mask all students and staff while on campus (i.e., indoors and outdoor spaces like courtyards and corridors) during the school day.
Sunnyside Unified School District
Sunny Unified School District’s governing board voted Aug. 19, 2021, 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.
Beginning Aug. 17, 2021, the Tempe Elementary School District required all students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings while indoors.
Beginning Aug. 17, 2021, the Tempe Union High School District required face coverings indoors at all of our school sites as well as the district office.
The Tolleson Elementary School District in the West Valley has announced it will begin requiring masks indoors after students return from the Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29, 2021. This decision is based on its increased need to quarantine classrooms, which has been challenging for students, their working parents and staff, said Superintendent Lupita Hightower in a Nov.17, 2021, letter to families. The mask policy will be reviewed quarterly, and Hightower said the district will keep families informed of changes.
Starting Oct. 18, 2021, all persons, including but not limited to staff, students, vendors, visitors, and volunteers, shall wear a cloth face covering while indoors on any district property, in any district facility, at any district event, and in any district vehicle, including district buses or vehicles rented or leased by the district.
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 health care provider will work with administration in developing a reasonable alternative plan.
Tucson Unified School District passed a masking mandate on Aug. 4, 2021. The governing board voted to continue the policy on Sept. 23, 2021. All adults and children who come to a TUSD campus are expected to wear a face covering.
The Union Elementary School District in Tolleson began requiring masks as of Aug. 24 , 2021, 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, requires 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.
Changes to mask policies
Arizona school districts are free to require face coverings in their schools after a Sept. 27, 2021, court ruling voided a new state law that would have banned these policies. Some districts that had previously required masks have changed or let their mask policies expire.
Brophy College Preparatory has made masks optional, both indoors and outdoors, as of Oct. 13, 2021. 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.
The Kyrene School District, which serves 26 schools in Maricopa County, made masks optional as of Feb. 14, 2022.
The Marana Unified School District near Tucson let its mask requirement expire on Sept. 29, 2021, the day a new state law blocking these policies would have taken effect. It held a special governing board meeting that same day but the board chose not to take action on a proposal to reinstate it, so masks will be optional there.
The Tanque Verde Unified School District's governing board voted on Nov. 9, 2021, to require masks for its pre-K through sixth-grade students through Dec. 17, 2021, given a recent increase in community transmission levels and an outbreak that closed Agua Caliente Elementary School. In addition, the board voted to discontinue whole school events for these grade levels until the end of January.
On Nov. 18, 2021, school board voted to strongly recommended — but not require — face mask for students, staff and volunteers beginning Jan. 3, 2022. Face masks were still required through Dec. 17, 2021. Face masks are still required on school buses.
If you know of a new or updated face covering policy at an Arizona school district, please contact [email protected].
KJZZ's Ben Giles and Vaughan Jones, and AZPM's Emma Gibson contributed to this report.