On Wednesday, state legislators in Utah passed a measure prohibiting public schools and universities from enforcing mask mandates in the upcoming school year.
Republican State Representative Val Peterson sponsored the bill, according to the Associated Press. Peterson “said county officials would still be able to invoke mask orders in consultation with local health officials in schools that have coronavirus outbreaks. The legislation only applies to COVID-19 and would not prevent people from wearing face coverings.”
“At some point this has to end,” Peterson said. “What this bill is really about is making sure we have those assurances to our students that they can go forward next fall and get right into the school year without the thought of masks and what that might mean.”
…prohibits an institution of higher education from requiring a face covering to participate in or attend instruction, activities, or in any other place on the campus of the institution after the end of the spring semester in 2021;
prohibits the Utah Board of Higher Education from requiring a face covering to participate in or attend instruction, activities, or in any other place on the campus of the institution after the end of the spring semester in 2021; and
prohibits a face covering requirement to participate in or attend instruction, activities, or in any other place on the school campus or facilities in the system of public education after the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
The bill also states that an institution of higher education “may not require proof of vaccination as a condition for enrollment or attendance” unless the institution allows for certain exemptions.
Democratic State Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost said that not requiring masks until a coronavirus outbreak may risk kids’ lives.
“For me, a single dead child is a child too many,” she said. “The problem with the way this is set up is, absent an actual outbreak, we can’t ask students to wear masks and the whole point of a mask is to prevent an outbreak.”
Republican Governor of Utah Spencer Cox said last week that he would no longer enforce mask mandates in K-12 schools for the final week of the academic school year. The bill to ban mask requirements is heading to Cox’s desk for a signature or veto.