Only one school district in Utah has so far approved a mask mandate for students.
The Grand County School District Commissioners voted Tuesday in favor of the mandate that requires masks for 30 days starting on Thursday, the first day of school for grades K-6.
At the meeting, the public weighed in for and against a mandate, and healthcare workers from the hospital and the health department spoke on why they think masks are necessary.
Ultimately the commissioners voted unanimously to temporarily impose requiring masks.
In a letter sent ahead of the meeting, the commissioners cited the county’s high Covid-19 transmission status and shortage of available pediatric ICU beds in the region.
“We have watched as schools around the country have opened in the past several weeks, and one thing has become clear — Covid-19 and its variants are making younger patients ill, sometimes critically ill, at a higher rate than has previously been seen during this pandemic,” the letter said.
“By enacting a mandatory indoor K-6 mask mandate, we are collectively choosing to set GCSD students on a positive path so that they can continue to benefit from in-person schooling, and even more importantly, to have increased protection from a deadly virus.”
The Utah Legislature enacted legislation that bans school districts from requiring masks in school, but local health departments can enact a temporary 30-day mask mandate if approved by county government.
The health department and the commission both signed the letter as required to make the mandate happened.
“During the 30 days, case counts in Grand County will be closely monitored, and if necessary, the mask mandate will be renewed,” the letter said.
Grand County, which is located on the eastern border of Utah, is currently categorized as a “Very High Rate” of Covid-19 transmission with a 14-Day Rate of 338.3, according to the Utah Department of Health. The largest city is Moab and it has a population of around 9,750 people, according to the US Census.
“We stand at a crossroads and are choosing to take the path most likely resulting in safer, healthier students,” the letter said. “We owe it to our children to protect them. Each student, every day.”
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