Utah Gov Mandates Mask-Wearing For All Students, Faculty This Fall

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has announced guidelines for the upcoming school year and what students, faculty, and teachers can expect going forward.

Herbert, a Republican, is expected to have the schools be open for students this fall and has mandated everyone involved to wear a personal protective mask.

The mandate was announced in a series of tweets on Thursday where he said the decision comes as he attempts to reopen while remaining safe.

“Today I want to reiterate the importance of protecting both lives and livelihoods. We need to stay safe and stay open,” he tweeted. “As we had an initial slow growth in case counts, we were able to open up. People went back to work.”

“I’m afraid as restrictions have eased, many of our residents have become complacent. Our rates have gone through the roof,” the governor continued. “Since the beginning of June, we’ve doubled our case counts. If the trend continues, we’ll overwhelm our hospital system.”

“Much of the state is still in yellow, and many counties are in green. People in all counties need to be more careful about wearing masks. Regardless of color code, [the] risk is still present,” he added.

Herbert continued: “We are also working with school districts and school boards to have them open up. Each district needs to have a plan in place by August 1. We want to make sure schools are safe for students to learn and teachers to teach.”

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“Today, I am announcing that we are mandating that all students, faculty, staff and visitors in all K-12 school districts and charter schools will wear a mask in buildings and on buses,” he added.

The governor said school boards and principals should be more lenient in implementing the masks for younger students: “We call on those local leaders to use common sense in the flexibility they use.”

“I believe in you, Utah. So let us all wash our hands, wear our masks, and put our shoulder to the wheel to get this done,” he concluded.

The Washington Examiner adds:

The governor’s announcement comes as many other states consider whether or not to reopen schools this fall, as urged by President Trump. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a list of public health guidelines for a safe reopening of schools, including using face coverings and introducing physical barriers around students to ensure social distancing.

Utah has had over 27,000 coronavirus cases and just over 200 deaths. The state experienced its highest single-day increase on Wednesday, reporting 722 new cases.