Schools Statewide Consider Safety And Masks For 'Back-To-School'

Aug 4, 2021

Flagstaff Unified School District officials say they’re preparing multiple learning options for students as classes are set to begin next week amid the ongoing pandemic. The district has released plans for in-person instruction, along with an online synchronist system for elementary school students. An additional asynchronous distance learning program will be an option for students from fifth to twelfth grade. The district also plans for temporary remote instruction if necessary. FUSD is encouraging face coverings for all individuals indoors, though a recently passed Arizona law prohibits mask mandates in K-12 public schools. Superintendent Mike Penca told listeners during a public meeting Monday that face coverings will be required on district transportation due to a federal law, and that they will be mandatory at Leupp Elementary due to a continuing mandate on the Navajo Nation.

Meanwhile, Tucson’s largest school district and two more Phoenix districts have approved mask-wearing mandates despite a state law barring school districts from requiring mask-wearing. Tucson Unified's board voted unanimously during an emergency meeting Wednesday to require that all students and staff wear masks on campus to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Osborn and Roosevelt districts said their boards approved similar requirements Tuesday. The actions came after Phoenix Union High School District approved a mask-wearing mandate last week and Phoenix Elementary School approved one Monday. The state has enacted a prohibition against masking mandates by school districts but it’s unclear whether the prohibition is now binding.