CUSD board ducks position on mask mandate ban SanTan Sun News

CUSD board ducks position on mask mandate ban

August 15th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
CUSD board ducks position on mask mandate ban
Community
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

The Chandler Unified School District Governing Board last week followed its large East Valley counterparts by paying no formal attention to the state law banning mask mandates.

Instead, the board heard a lengthy presentation by district administration on its COVID-19-mitigation measures and encouraged parents to send their kids to school with face masks.

Those mitigation measures include a minimum 3-feet distancing among students and staff when possible, enforcing directional flow of students, keeping large gatherings outside if social distancing is not possible and imposing mitigation measures on all field trips.

The district also will use quarantines under conditions spelled out on its website at cusd80.com/Page/113434.

CUSD did not follow Tempe Union and Kyrene governing boards – which, after sometimes emotional and angry statements by members, last week approved resolutions asking the Legislature and Gov. Doug Ducey to rescind the ban on mask mandates.

Instead, its informal no-comment position echoed those of Mesa Public Schools and Gilbert Public Schools governing boards, which also took no formal position on the mandate ban.

The CUSD board met in a lengthy executive session to discuss with its lawyer “the District’s COVID-19 related school safety operations or school safety plans or programs and related matters,” according to its agenda.

The vast majority of the 57 emails sent the board prior to the Aug. 11 meeting and statements by 27 parents and other citizens who addressed the board in person reflected the deep division over masks that exists in the district, as it does throughout the nation.

Typical of those who virtually urged the district to ignore the law and impose a mask mandate was a letter from one parent that stated, “We, concerned parents, are requesting that kids are asked or mandated to wear masks and an online option exist for gifted students. We are playing with our kids lives. The CDC, American Pediatrics are recommending masks again. Let’s follow Science for the sake of the kids.”

Another stated, “I feel the board has a ethical, moral and legal responsibility to protect students while at school i.e. in loco parentis. While there is a law on the books, it actually isn’t enforceable until end of September. Furthermore, any simple court challenge would render this law unconstitutional.”

A Superior Court judge was scheduled on Friday, after the deadline for the SanTan Sun News, to hear evidence in a biology teacher’s lawsuit against Phoenix Union High School District’s mask requirement. That district and at least five others are defying the ban.

On the other hand, other parents who wrote or addressed the CUSD board urged it to let parents decide whether to send their children to school with face masks.

“I want to thank you for abiding by the law by not having a mask mandate, requiring vaccine and not teaching CRT,” one wrote, referring to critical race theory. “You will find the majority of the parents are going to support you for showing the children this is democracy. We may not always agree with the law but we abide by them. Thank you!”

The ongoing debate about masks comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are soaring across Arizona, including in Chandler Unified.

The latest data released last week by the county health department showed that in two weeks, cases per 100,000 soared from 139 to 310, though positive new test results ticked down from 13.5 percent to 10.7 percent. Both data sets are well over what they were a month ago in the district. It is unclear if the positive test result decline results from fewer people getting tests.

Other data released last week by the county show that 58.1 percent of all eligible teens and adults in Chandler are fully vaccinated.

The data is not broken down by school district.

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