Throughout this pandemic, public schools have been asked to do the impossible, but our educators rose to the challenge to provide safe learning environments for our students, even as requirements, metrics and recommendations around what is safe continued to change. Public health has always been at the forefront of ensuring all students could continue to learn and grow.
As we ramp up for the new school year our educators are ready and excited to be with their students and once again provide a learning environment that will keep them safe and healthy. Governor Ducey and the State Legislature, however, are putting our students in danger.
When Governor Ducey signed the state budget last month it included two new policy provisions for schools, one related to face coverings and one related to the COVID-19 vaccine. Hidden in the nearly 200-page K-12 budget was language prohibiting school districts from requiring face coverings and the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff.
AS COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in Arizona and no knowledge of when children under 12 will be eligible for the vaccine, the Governor and the legislature are putting politics before our students.
“What the Governor has signed into law is dangerous and is putting the health of students in danger,” said Joe Thomas AEA President. “As we saw during the pandemic last year, guidance is constantly changing as more is learned about this virus. Putting a blanket prohibition on masks and vaccines is irresponsible and reckless.”
On July 19th, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a mask requirement for students as many are still not eligible for the vaccine and cases are on the rise due to the new and fast spreading Delta variant. Groups are now urging the CDC to change their guidance as well and for all Americans to resume mask wearing regardless of vaccination status. Should the CDC update their guidance to require masks in schools, Arizona school districts acting to protect their students under this guidance would be in direct violation of Governor Ducey’s new law.
“Once again, the Governor had an opportunity to lead and instead has put his own political gain over the lives of Arizonans,” said Thomas.