Flagstaff Schools Navigate State Law, CDC Guidelines For Fall Classes

Aug 4, 2021

In this Mar. 4, 2021 file photo, a sign outside Flagstaff Junior Academy encourages masking during the pandemic. Recently passed Ariz. legislation bans public schools, including those in the Flagstaff Unified School District, from enforcing mask mandates.
Credit Angela Gervasi


Public schools across northern Arizona are navigating both state law and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as students return to the classroom. Officials with the Flagstaff Unified School District say that means recommending — but not mandating — face coverings.

The Arizona Legislature passed a law earlier this summer prohibiting mask mandates in public schools. Gov. Doug Ducey says that law “will not change,” despite recent CDC guidelines recommending face coverings for all individuals inside school facilities. 

At a virtual meeting Monday, FUSD Superintendent Michael Penca said the district will encourage CDC protocol, but ultimately, it’ll be up to the individual. 

"For FUSD, as superintendent, you know, I can't recommend that any of our staff, or our governing board violate state law," Penca said. 

Masks will be mandatory on district transportation under a federal law that applies to school buses. Penca says they’ll also be required at Leupp Elementary School on the Navajo Nation. 

District officials on Monday outlined a number of prevention strategies, like limiting visitors, daily cleaning, and contact tracing. Classes are slated to start next week, with both in-person and remote options for FUSD students.