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UArizona to require masks, reversing earlier call

Posted at 8:00 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 16:11:00-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — In a reversal of an announcement made earlier this week, the University of Arizona will require masks inside buildings where distancing isn't possible.

The University released a short statement Wednesday evening:

Aug. 11, 2021
Based on the current health conditions and aligned with CDC guidance as well as our commitment to deliver in-person learning at the University of Arizona, we will require face masks be worn in all indoor spaces where it is not possible to adequately and continuously maintain social distance.

We will share more details in the coming week.

Robert C. RobbinsPresident

Earlier Wednesday, Arizona State University leaders announced they would require masks, and Northern Arizona University followed suit.

On Thursday, Arizona Board of Regents Chair Lyndel Manson released this statement, supporting the mask mandates:

"As students return to campus this fall, the Arizona Board of Regents has asked the university presidents to do everything in their power to keep our university communities healthy and safe while remaining open and offering an in-classroom experience. The steps taken by our universities comply with the executive order related to university COVID-19 actions and state law, and the board supports our university presidents for taking measures they believe are necessary to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus."

On Monday, University President Robert Robbins said the college would not require masks to be worn inside because of an order by the Governor.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: UArizona President wishes he could require masks and vaccines

Governor Ducey said a law passed earlier this year prevents schools from requiring mask use.

There's some debate over when that law becomes effective or if it already is.

Several public school districts throughout the state have also announced mask requirements within the past several weeks.

Gov. Ducey's office released this statement to KGUN9 Thursday, calling mask mandates "toothless and unenforceable":

COVID has been with us for well over a year and a half now, and Arizonans are educated about it. If they want to wear masks, they should absolutely do so. It’s an individual choice. No one and no law anywhere in Arizona is stopping anyone from wearing masks.

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.

We also strongly believe the FDA should listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics and expand authorization of this life-saving vaccine to children under the age of 12. The FDA needs to ramp up this effort and they need to act quickly.