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Colleges say they can buck anti-mask law legally

It’s all in the wording
Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 01:15:08-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Mask mandates are back on at Universities and Community Colleges---and they say they can legally buck the Governor’s order prohibiting mask requirements. How? KGUN9 has more on their strategies.

It was a surprise reversal when University of Arizona said it would enforce a mask mandate after University President Robert Robbins said Monday UA will abide by state law.

Now UA, ASU, and NAU say they will impose indoor mask mandates. The Board of Regents supports them: As the Regents Chair Lyndal Manson put it:

"The steps taken by our universities comply with the executive order related to university COVID-19 actions and state law..."

So how could they have a mask mandate and comply with the Governor’s order and state law?

Late in the afternoon, UA cited the same basic legal conclusion Maricopa Community College spelled out in the morning.

Maricopa Community College says the Governor’s order and the state law don’t really forbid mask mandates, they forbid schools from asking if someone’s vaccinated and say it would be illegal discrimination to require masks for someone who hasn’t had a COVID shot.

A statement from Maricopa Community College says in part, “Nowhere in the order does it address (or prohibit, for that matter) mask mandates for all, regardless of vaccine status.”

By that reasoning, don’t ask about vaccination and the mask mandate is legal.

TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo has stuck by his district mask mandate for about a week. He says the Governor’s order and the state law---violate state law

"Regardless of bluster or the language of the letter. We return to the constitutionality of this legislation that was passed and we stand firm in our belief that this law does not exist at this particular time."

That may echo other critics of the law who say it can’t hold up because Arizona’s Constitution says each bill must be on one topic and not have other issues tacked on. The prohibition on mask mandates is part of the bill on the education budget.

Governor Ducey says they’ve all got it wrong.

His statement said, in part:

“Ultimately, these mandates are toothless, unenforceable and will not hold up in court. As we’ve said repeatedly, the game-changer in this discussion is the vaccine. It works, it’s widely available and we strongly encourage every eligible Arizonan to get their shot.”

And the Governor is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics and approve COVID vaccines for children younger than 12.