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TUSD will require masks in schools, in defiance of state law

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Posted at 9:36 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 22:33:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — All schools in the Tucson Unified School District will now require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks on campus, the district's governing board voted Wednesday morning.

The governing board voted unanimously to put the policy in place during an emergency meeting this morning. TUSD -- the largest school district in southern Arizona -- begins its 2021-2022 school year Thursday morning.

"Our districts first and foremost responsibility is that while they are in our schools, our students, teachers and staff are healthy," Dr. Ravi Grivois-Shah, a TUSD Board Member, said. "Nothing is more important."

The policy goes directly against state law signed by Gov. Doug Ducey that prohibits mask mandates at schools. Ducey reiterated his opposition to mask mandate last week, when the CDC recommended all students and staff at schools wear masks.

"Gov. Ducey expects school districts to follow the law, and that law is pretty clear," a Ducey spokesman told KGUN 9 Wednesday. "It was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor and there can be no question about its intent. Arizona is not anti-mask. There is no mask prohibition. Arizona, as this law clearly states, is anti-mask mandate. Students, teachers and staff are all free to wear masks if they choose. We trust Arizona families to make the right choice."

When asked if there will be action against districts that don't follow this law, the spokesman said "That's yet to be determined. We expect this to be followed."

The Tucson Education Association President, Margaret Chaney, said they were pleased with the decision.

"Many of our teachers have their own children at home," Chaney said. "There is a lot of concern about interactions at sites and then bringing the virus home with them."

The Pima County Health Department also recommended universal mask usage in schools in new guidance last week, as well as the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The governing board also voted to continue to have school board meetings online.

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