TUCSON – Despite the fact that Governor Doug Ducey is prohibited from requiring the use of masks, schools in Tucson, Arizona, decided that students, teachers and workers will have to wear them during their school hours, to try to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect even more to students with disabilities.
Last thursday, the Tucson Unified School (TUSD) District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to maintain the requirement for the use of masks on students and teachers, in this way the District will challenge the law.
During their meeting, the members of the board affirmed that they made the decision in favor of the entire student community, as well as workers and people with disabilities, who are more vulnerable to contagion, said the superintendent, Gabriel Trujillo.
“You have taken the necessary steps to protect approximately 1,198 of our 7,000 students with disabilities in the district, who are in the category‘ medically fragile”, he said.
At the virtual meeting, Pima County Health Director Theresa Cullen also participated, saying that currently “our test positive rate is around 10 percent to 12 percent”.
In the latest tests carried out, the results have shown that, in this county, the positive cases are of the Delta variant, for which “we continue to be very concerned about the high transmission”, he said.
According to TUSD data, this school year there have been 76 outbreaks with 2,274 cases of Covid-19, in addition to 43 school classroom closures, however, Dr. Cullen commented that that number would probably be higher without the use of face mask.
Given these data, “the county and the Department of Health strongly recommend the universal and correct use of the mask”, he said.
The officials of the Unified District know that this determination provokes an open challenge to the law of the government of the State of Arizona, for which they ordered their attorneys to ask the Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice to intervene and support their he fights to make the use of face masks mandatory in schools without risking state funds.
“The district seeks federal intervention to ensure that Arizona does not deny our children with disabilities the equal educational opportunities to which they are entitled”, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The interim president of the Governing Board, Adelita Grijalva, said that “the district seeks federal intervention to ensure that Arizona does not deny our children with disabilities the equal educational opportunities to which they are entitled under the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act”.
State government law states that “education is a public right and taxpayers are paying for it; students cannot be required to take the Covid-19 vaccine or to present vaccination documents”.
The executive order adds that “students cannot be forced to evacuate or wear masks to participate in learning”.